In The Mix: A Message from President & CEO Laura O’Neill Kaumo
While the war in Ukraine, and our collective thoughts and prayers for the Ukrainian people, took center stage in the President’s State Union Address, it was good to hear mention of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). There’s no question it will be a transformative piece of legislation. However, until the law is completely funded, its full implementation will continue to be delayed. As you know, ACPA has been working closely with our industry allies for the last few months to encourage Congressional negotiators to address these issues. Hopefully, they will be resolved prior to the expiration of the current government funding measure on March 11th.
Perhaps I am aging myself when I reminisce about a bygone era when federal appropriations bills – those annual spending bills that give life to authorized highway programs with exciting names like ISTEA, SAFETEA, TEA-21 – were routine and nearly pro forma. While Congressional gridlock has eased slightly and legislators on both sides of the aisle are singing the praises of the BIL, until this appropriations deadlock can be broken, the full force of the legislation will continue to be delayed. Without a full-year appropriations law, states and local governments won’t have access to an estimated 20 percent of the “bumped” highway money in the BIL. Notably, pavement-related formula programs like the National Highway Performance Program, Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, Airport Improvement Program, and PROTECT program, as well as discretionary programs like INFRA, and RAISE won’t be funded at elevated levels. Hopefully, a deal will come soon, as I know from speaking with many of you that ACPA members are ready to get to work!
In other news, it’s been great to have an opportunity to meet in person and travel once again. I’ve really enjoyed attending many of the State/Chapter annual meetings. I’m especially enjoying the local cuisine. Last week, I found myself devouring a plate of BBQ in Kansas City at the Missouri/Kansas ACPA Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Conference – it was nothing shy of heaven! Jesse Jonas, Cindy Allen, and the rest of the MO/KS team ran a spectacular event and an even better awards show. ACPA National’s Gary Mitchell and Eric Ferrebee were also on hand presenting a seminar on resolving field discrepancies and a crash course on slip form paving, respectively. From Florida to Iowa and Kansas to Wisconsin, with a few other stops and virtual appearances in between, the content of these meetings has been compelling, informative, and relevant. Kudos to our State/Chapter leaders and their teams for creating these awesome venues to highlight the concrete pavement industry.
We’ve got great information in this edition of the ACPA newsletter, including a busy On the Grade section, a preview of the two upcoming Tech Tuesday Webinars from the CP Tech Center, an opportunity to engage your representatives on an important tax measure, a highlight from North Dakota, an announcement from MO/KS, and an overview of a letter sent to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leaders.