TEXAS, USA — We received an interesting email from Governor Abbott’s office more than a year ago. It was about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that had been passed in 2021 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and signed into law by President Biden.
In the email from Abbott in December 2021, the governor shared a letter he sent to state agency heads.
In part, Abbott instructed them, “We must be conscientious of conditions attached to any of these funds”.
He went on to say that if the federal money were to, “Hinder or needlessly constrain the state, commit the state to ongoing costs”, or if there are requirements that are, “Contrary to the law or policy of this state, the agreement…should not be signed."
The governor was about to go through a primary against two further right challengers when this letter was publicized. He got a lot of news coverage for it, including at least one article that contained kudos from conservatives for the governor’s vigilant, even skeptical stance on federal funding.
Long after those headlines faded away, the questions persisted: What specific condition would prompt the governor to turn down federal money, and how much would he be willing to refuse if he disagrees with the terms and conditions?
Turns out… none. At least so far, anyway.
WFAA asked the governor’s office, once last year and again last month, if he had declined any of that infrastructure money because of the concerns he laid out in his letter.
WFAA also asked if Abbott and state agency heads had any communications with state agency heads who might have questioned whether to turn away funding, since the governor had encouraged them to reach out to him on this matter.
The governor’s office said they had “no information responsive” to WFAA's requests.
So, that infrastructure money has been pouring into Texas. When WFAA asked, the White House sent this update, saying "$14.2 billion in federal funding has already been announced for 356 infrastructure projects across Texas."
And much more is promised.
Here’s a breakdown of the more than $35 billion in infrastructure investments earmarked for Texas in the act:
- $26.9 billion for highway programs
- $3.3 billion for public transportation
- $2.9 billion for safe drinking water infrastructure
- $1.2 billion for airport expansions
- $537 million for bridge repairs
- $408 million for electric vehicle charging stations
- $100 million for broadband expansion
- $53 million for wildfire protection
- $42 million for cybersecurity protection
We’ll keep asking whether Abbott decides to reject any of that federal money as it continues to be dispersed.