We need to modernize transportation and infrastructure without blowing up the deficit

January 4, 2021
Burchett Opinions

We need to modernize transportation and infrastructure without blowing up the deficit

This article was originally featured on Rep. Burchett's official website on January 4, 2021

Tennessee is a well-run state, particularly when it comes to fiscal management. In fact, it ranks as one of the top states in terms of financial health. Tennesseans, myself included, value keeping government spending in check so excess costs aren’t passed along to hardworking taxpayers and business owners. The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s pay-as-you-go model (PAYGO), for example, funds transportation projects using only money that is available from transportation-related revenues and federal funding. 

PAYGO is a successful, fiscally conservative funding system, but Tennessee still faces a common problem: the need to modernize infrastructure to keep up with the demands of a growing economy and population.

Federal elected officials need to bring America’s highways, airports, railways and other assets into the 21st Century by wisely investing taxpayer dollars in federal legislation that addresses these needs. That’s why I am seeking membership on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. I want to help tackle these critical issues by applying fiscally conservative principles to the legislative process.

Tennessee’s Second Congressional District is home to key transportation assets crucial to the state and nation’s economy. Federal interstates I-40 and I-75 run through the district allowing commercial travel for business and tourism, including the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park. McGhee Tyson Airport also supports travel to East Tennessee, along with 31 non-commercial airports located throughout the district.

These same assets drive commerce in East Tennessee, shipping goods and services in and out of the district and across the southeast. The interstate highways and McGhee Tyson Airport, as well as 331 miles of freight railroad, help local businesses reach customers and import products from across the country.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is also located in the Second District and utilizes the Tennessee River system to provide energy to seven southeastern states. East Tennessee’s waterways help supply power for millions of Americans and are a source of economic development for our region.

My goals on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will be to responsibly modernize our infrastructure, meet the needs of businesses, and generate economic activity. East Tennessee was not represented on the Committee during the 116th Congress, but we need a seat at the table.

If I’m fortunate enough to join the Committee, I will focus on legislation that streamlines the permit process so improvement projects are quickly completed. I’d also like to work on eliminating red tape regulations that increase the cost of projects for American taxpayers and authorize spending that creates jobs. Most importantly, improving America’s transportation and infrastructure does not require grossly expanding the size of the federal government. Tennessee invests in transportation and infrastructure without sinking into debt, and there is no reason the federal government can’t do the same.