Leslie Wagner, Director of Project Management and Development for Ginovus—a privately owned firm that works with businesses including Fortune 500 companies on investment decisions—summed up a basic economic principle:
The quality of a state’s infrastructure has a profound effect on its ability to attract development and the success of companies that choose to locate there.
Building and maintaining quality infrastructure is one of the core responsibilities of government, but Republican controlled legislatures—from New Hampshire to Texas—are neglecting this duty, and their short-term cost savings from choosing neglect over investment will have a massive impact on their economies and their constituents. Without quality roads and bridges, businesses will simply not locate in areas--leaving people and communities behind.
New Hampshire’s 3,795 bridges make for more than just incredible photographs; since the state has no comprehensive rail service, they are the only way to transport goods through the state and allow people to get to their jobs. However, bridges in New Hampshire are older than those in the rest of the country, and hundreds of these bridges have major structural problems and need to be repaired or replaced.
Given the essential function that bridges serve, the legislature should be acting to repair damaged bridges for the safety of New Hampshire residents and to aid the state’s economy. However, the new Republican legislative majority moved the opposite direction, cutting $30 million a year from the state’s department of transportation. As a direct result of those cuts, the New Hampshire DOT recently announced that it doesn't even have enough money to keep the lights on its bridges running, let alone repair them.
A similar saga is playing out in Texas. Even though the population of Texas is much larger than New Hampshire, and it is the fastest growing state in the nation, the policies of the state’s Republican leadership are leaving the state woefully behind in building out its roads to accommodate the new growth. Last year a Texas committee released a report that the state will face a $170 billion shortfall in state road funding by 2030, leading to increased traffic congestion and maintenance costs.
However, the Republican legislature refuses to face reality and will not examine how it funds road construction and improvements, resulting in a state that is running out of money for new road construction.
The short-sightedness of the current Republican leadership may make for a good sound-bite, but in the long run the impact on these states’ economies will be damaging and even more expensive.