How Will the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Impact Utah?

June 3, 2022

In November of last year, Congress passed, and the President signed, the bi-partisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Unlike other pandemic stimulus efforts (such as the CARES Act and ARPA), this bill does not include large discretionary pots of money for state and local governments. Instead, the IIJA returns to a more traditional mix of formula funding and competitive grants.

The bill authorizes a total of $1.2 trillion in transportation, broadband, water infrastructure, power and grid, western water, and environmental remediation funding. Most federal appropriations bills provide funding for a single fiscal year, however the IIJA provides appropriations for new programs over federal fiscal years 2022 through 2026. Of the $1.2 trillion, $550 billion is new funding, and the rest (roughly 55% of the total funding package) is for reauthorization of existing programs. The Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst created a brief outlining the programs funded and estimated amounts that Utah could receive.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (GOPB) has created an “IIJA Opportunity Tracker” dashboard on their website that tracks Utah’s approach and progress in applying for funding in the IIJA. The “Open Grants Opportunities” section contains a list of all the programs provided in the White House guidebook with information such as Utah State agency lead, due date, funding mechanism, and if state agency is pursuing this program. The “Open Grant Timeline” has a breakdown of programs with known deadline by category and quarter/month. As of the writing of this post, 19 programs (that Utah is eligible for) of the 51 total grant opportunities are open for application, according to GOPB. The dashboard’s “Grant Eligibility” feature also lists all the programs provided by the White House, and who are eligible for them. GOPB will continually update the dashboard as federal agencies release more information about programs.

While the IIJA doesn’t provide the same level of discretionary funding as CARES and ARPA, it does authorize a selection of new programs that will provide new funding to Utah over the next five years. The federal government is expected to issue guidance soon on how the new funding can be utilized.  Some of the new programs include: the National Electric Vehicle Formula program; the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program; Carbon Reduction Program; Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund; Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid, Grants to States and Tribes; and Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund Capitalization Program.

At present, broadband investment appears to be an area where policymakers may have some flexibility in choosing state investments. In anticipation of this, during the 2022 General Session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 214, “Utah Broadband Center Advisory Commission.” This legislation created a commission to provide recommendations to the Utah Broadband Center for both the application and use of broadband infrastructure funds provided by the IIJA as well as on the development of a strategic plan for statewide broadband connectivity. The Utah Broadband Center Advisory Commission is comprised of four legislators, the executive director of GOPB, and four appointees from the Governor that meet certain criteria.

During the 2022 Session, legislators also anticipated state participation in certain water and transportation grants. They appropriated $5.27 million for in state matching funding for Drinking Water programs, unlocking the ability for the state to receive an estimated $114.86 million in Federal Funds. Additionally, the legislature provided $3.28 million in General Fund as a state match for the Water Quality IIJA offerings, enabling the state to be eligible to receive an estimated $29.2 million in FY 2022 and FY 2023 (the first two years of the IIJA investment timeline). The Legislature also provided $40 million for the state share of potential rail grants as part of the state’s $1.0 billion transportation investment package.

As federal agencies publish guidance on IIJA grants, LFA and GOPB will update legislators on their availability and use through the Federal Funds Review Process during regular Executive Appropriations Committee meetings.