Biden White House Gives Missouri 'C-' in Infrastructure While Pitching American Jobs Plan

click to enlarge A tugboat passes under the Eads bridge connecting Missouri and Illinois. Both states earned a "C-" in infrastructure from the Biden administration. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
A tugboat passes under the Eads bridge connecting Missouri and Illinois. Both states earned a "C-" in infrastructure from the Biden administration.

A new "Infrastructure report card" from the White House gives Missouri a C- on a variety of various infrastructure needs — notably, the pseudo-report card doesn't just target the conditions of roads and bridges, but a slew of shortcomings including lack of affordable housing, broadband access, and childcare.

Released Monday, the state-by-state reports arrive as the Biden administration is attempting to build support for its American Jobs Plan. Each state report starts with an identically worded broadside against the "systemic lack of investment" in infrastructure in that particular state. Overall, the reports frame and define the infrastructure challenges in terms of a longstanding, nationwide failure — and while Missouri's grade might not make it an honor student, no state earned better than a C+.

In fact, according to the full release of the Biden administration's report cards, Missouri's C- in infrastructure was matched by 21 other states, including Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, Ohio, New York and Washington DC.

Twelve states pulled in solid C's, while six notched technically passing grades with D's and D+'s. At the bottom of the list, Puerto Rico earned the only D-. (Eight states were given report cards but not grades.)

In terms of a hypothetical classroom, it's not the sort of report card that gets framed. No grandparents are going to stick this one on the fridge. But the Biden administration is arguing that new funding is crucial to keep states from failing residents across some very non-hypothetical areas of infrastructure.

According to the Missouri report card:
  • Drivers pay $743 per year in costs related to the "poor condition" of the state's 2,190 bridges and over 7,576 miles of highway.
  • Non-White households, which are ten times more likely to use public transportation, are hit hardest by the state's infrastructure shortcomings: Nearly a third of the state's trains and transit vehicles are "past useful life," while Missourians who do use public transportation spend nearly 80 percent more time commuting.
  • Missouri's lack of available and affordable housing is partly responsible for the status of 343,000 people as "rent burdened," meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
  • More than half of residents live in "child care deserts." Statewide, schools requiring maintenance are facing an estimated total gap of $685 million to make necessary improvements.
  • An average low-income family in Missouri spends ten to twelve percent of their income on energy costs, the report notes, "forcing tough choices between paying energy bills and buying food, medicine or other essentials."
Meanwhile, the already-passed American Rescue Plan is setting off a scramble among cities and institutions seeking a piece of the $2.8 billion in direct aid reserved for Missouri — of which more than $500 million is earmarked for St. Louis.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]
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