Tucson Mayor Hosts Biden’s Senior Advisor To Discuss Infrastructure

February 25, 2024

By Corinne Murdock |

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero played host to President Joe Biden’s senior advisor last week to discuss public infrastructure.

Tom Perez, senior advisor and assistant to the President and director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, visited the city of Tucson on Tuesday. Perez, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, visited as part of the Investing in America tour highlighting initiatives funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

In a press conference, Perez said that the Biden administration prioritizes giving awards to those projects rooted in equity. 

“There has never been in our lifetime a more robust investment in building America, building out our infrastructure, making sure in that process that we view everything through that equity lens, understanding that zip code will no longer determine destiny,” said Perez. “We have this opportunity folks, and we are not going to squander this opportunity to build an Arizona, and to build an America where everybody has access to good middle-class jobs, where high speed, affordable internet is a reality so that if you have a behavioral or mental health issue, you can do telemedicine.”

Among the initiatives for which Tucson received millions in federal funding under IRA and BIL was the 22nd Street Bridge revitalization, TARP Facility, Tucson Million Trees (TMT), and relinquishment of their water rights.

The Biden administration gave Tucson $25.9 million to build the 22nd Street Bridge. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), it was the city’s focus on equity for the project that secured the funds.

Tucson also received a $5 million grant from the USDA last September for TMT. Despite the funding, TMT has fallen far short of its goal to plant one million trees by 2030. Only about 100,000 trees were planted as of last year. 

However, Romero claimed in a one-on-one meeting with President Joe Biden earlier this month that TMT was on track. 

Tucson also traded its water rights for $44 million in federal infrastructure funds last summer: over 110,000 acre-feet through 2025. 

Perez also made a stop with another major Arizona city that has received millions in BIL and IRA funds. 

Last Monday, Perez visited with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego to discuss the availability of funds to both public and private entities for “clean” energy initiatives, such as electric buses for schools or solar panels for churches. 

Earlier this month, Perez and National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard met with county elected officials through the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference to discuss Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Santa Cruz County Supervisor Manuel Ruiz was among those elected officials to attend.

Per White House data on federal awards, the Biden administration has issued over 1,800 BIL discretionary and formula grants in Arizona. USDA data reflects that Arizona has requested over $2.1 billion in clean energy funding.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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