WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will unveil a $2 trillion infrastructure plan Wednesday that, if signed into law, could bring billions of federal dollars to Hawaii to help it upgrade its roads, electrical grid and broadband capabilities.
While the American Jobs Plan is light on details in terms of what each state might expect to receive, the sheer magnitude of the proposal — as well as the targeted spending priorities — means the islands are primed for another financial windfall similar to what was seen during the coronavirus pandemic.
Administration officials have said they hope the new infrastructure plan, which some have likened to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, will create jobs and transition the nation toward a more environmentally sustainable future.
For instance, the plan includes $174 billion to spur growth in the U.S. market for electric vehicles, which includes building 500,000 new charging stations, and billions more for research and development of new technologies to address climate change.
The package, which would be paid for in part by increasing the corporate tax rate, also calls for major improvements to the country’s ports and an expansion of rail transit.
At this point it’s still unclear whether Honolulu’s beleaguered $10 billion rail project, which is over budget, behind schedule and the subject of a criminal investigation, would benefit.
Congress will also have a final say in how the bill is shaped. Republicans have already criticized the plan, which means Democrats might have trouble getting it through the Senate where they hold the slimmest of majorities with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaker.
Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele, a Democrat, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told West Hawaii Today last week that one of his top priorities in his district will be looking for ways to address the state’s antiquated wastewater system in rural counties, including on the Big Island.
“Probably the biggest, most expensive project for this county that I’ve heard … is wastewater,” Kahele said. “Our wastewater system here in Hawaii County is in bad shape.”
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