US needs new infrastructure investment. Here’s what we want to know: Associated Builders and Contractors CEO

Michael Bellaman | Originally posted on: FOX Business

The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill contains the most significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure in a generation and could yield key wins for the American people and the construction industry.

The effective modernization of our nation’s roads, bridges, water infrastructure, transit, railways, ports and other critical infrastructure projects—and the bipartisan bill’s ultimate success—will rely on three important factors.

First, what is the lens that the federal government uses to select critical projects? The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act gives broad funding flexibility to federal agencies through discretionary grant programs. With approximately $1.2 trillion in total funding, including $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, it is imperative that the selection of projects be based on the long-term value provided to hardworking taxpayers and the most positive impact on our nation’s transportation systems and economy.

This legislation could provide much-needed public investment and encourage public-private partnerships, which would boost private capital, GDP and employment throughout the country. However, our federal agencies facilitating these grant and funding programs must be strategic in their decisions and not get bogged down by politics.

Second, what are the new regulations and requirements for competing for and delivering construction contracts and will they optimize public investment in infrastructure? Taxpayers and industry stakeholders should not have to deal with costly waste and favoritism, but should instead expect policies supporting fair competition open to all of the construction industry that attract the best contractors and workforce to compete for contracts to modernize America’s infrastructure.

The administration’s rhetoric on supporting union-only jobs for federal work remains troubling for the 87% of the construction industry that chooses not to join a union. Workers who opt to work in a nonunion environment should not be excluded from participating in building infrastructure projects in their own communities.

Efforts to impose restrictive government-mandated project labor agreements and anti-competitive policies like the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and union-only workforce restrictions will raise costs, limit competition and result in job losses for the construction industry.

Third, what is the remaining legislative agenda for the president and Congress? While the IIJA was a bipartisan product, Democrats and the Biden administration continue to pursue divisive, partisan policies that would decimate our ability to modernize the nation’s infrastructure.

The congressional budget reconciliation process could devastate the construction industry with new tax hikes and burdensome labor requirements, making it tougher for many of our smaller contractors to continue their recovery from the devastating blows of the COVID-19 pandemic and meaningfully participate in infrastructure work.

Additionally, the Biden administration continues to pursue enactment of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would strip America’s workers of their rights, choices and freedoms in the workplace and make it nearly impossible for many small construction firms to continue operating.

Pursuing commonsense, bipartisan solutions is a better way to address the ongoing needs of our economy and America’s workers, ensuring robust competition from the best contractors and their workforce so taxpayers receive the best possible construction projects at the best possible price.

ABC and our members stand ready to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure system and deliver affordable, valuable, long-lasting modernization projects built through fair and open competition.

Michael Bellaman is president and CEO, Associated Builders and Contractors.

Business groups call on congressional delegation to reject federal tax increases

By ROI-NJ Staff (New Jersey)  |  Originally posted on

Eleven N.J. employer groups and trade associations this week called on the state’s congressional delegation to reject increases to the federal corporate tax rate and the Global Intangible Low-Tax Income rate.

While the recently passed $1.2 billion infrastructure agreement included no broad-based tax increases on American businesses, the groups — in an open letter to the delegation — said the prospect of massive tax hikes remains on the table during reconciliation.

Such a move, the groups said, would be a crushing blow to many New Jersey businesses.

“If increased, the ability of workers and businesses across the Garden State to properly rebound from the pandemic could be severely hampered, with our competitiveness on the global stage impacted in the process,” they wrote. “Particularly considering that New Jersey’s tax rates are already among the very highest in the nation, potential hikes at the federal level are cause for concern.”

The following groups signed the letter:

  • African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey
  • Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey
  • Chemistry Council of New Jersey
  • Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey
  • Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
  • Insurance Council of New Jersey
  • New Jersey Bankers Association
  • New Jersey Business & Industry Association
  • New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association
  • New Jersey Chamber of Commerce

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation,

We are writing to affirm our shared commitment to delivering New Jersey’s economy out of this current turndown, and to urge your support in this endeavor.

We were encouraged to see that the $1.2 billion bipartisan infrastructure agreement included no tax increases on American businesses. However, discussions are still ongoing for a budget that would be passed through reconciliation — and we understand that the prospect of tax hikes remains on the table.

Specifically, some federal officials have proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and the Global Intangible Low-Tax Income rate from 10.5% to 21%. If increased, the ability of workers and businesses across the Garden State to properly rebound from the pandemic could be severely hampered, with our competitiveness on the global stage impacted in the process. Particularly considering that New Jersey’s tax rates are already among the very highest in the nation, potential hikes at the federal level are cause for concern.

We are wary of such tax increases and believe they would do more harm than good to New Jersey’s businesses and communities today. New Jersey experienced many lows during the pandemic, including reaching a record 16.2% unemployment rate during the peak of the pandemic and seeing about 30% of the state’s small businesses close their doors, according to some reports. There is clearly a long way to go in our recovery and we must do everything we can to support and boost economic revival in our communities.

But raising the corporate tax rate only serves to further set us back. Such a hike would affect businesses of all sizes, not just the big corporations. As we’ve seen before, tax hikes can ultimately fall onto the Main Street businesses and small shops that form the backbone of local economies across the state. A recent analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 1.4 million small businesses employing 13 million Americans would be forced to pay the higher rate.

And doubling the GILTI rate from 10.5% to 21% poses a host of additional challenges. A study by the National Association of Manufacturers found that up to 1 million jobs could be lost and nearly $20 billion in economic activity may be forfeited.

To protect our state’s economy and ensure a swift recovery, we urge your offices to avoid adding further tax burdens to our business community at this time.

ABC-Led Coalition Announces Six-Figure Advocacy Campaign

Originally posted on

WASHINGTONBuild America Local, a coalition of construction industry and business organizations led by Associated Builders and Contractors, today announced a six-figure issue advocacy campaign aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about controversial government-mandated project labor agreements that reduce competition and increase costs for the construction of taxpayer-funded affordable housing, clean energy and infrastructure projects across America.

The campaign urges senators to oppose government-mandated PLA schemes as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations continue between a select group of Senate Republicans and Democrats and the Biden administration.

“As Congress works to craft infrastructure legislation, it is critical for the U.S. Senate to oppose government-mandated PLAs so all qualified contractors and construction workers have the ability to fairly compete and build America’s infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Ensuring fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects will ultimately result in savings to taxpayers, more opportunities for all qualified small businesses, minorities and women in the construction industry, and the construction of more quality infrastructure projects so America can Build Back Better and faster.”

When mandated by the federal government, PLAs exacerbate the U.S. construction industry’s skilled labor shortage, effectively prevent the 87.3% of the U.S. construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union from fairly competing for contracts and drive up the cost of critical infrastructure projects by 12% to 20%, resulting in fewer construction projects and local jobs.

The Build America Local website houses a variety of educational and social media materials and also gives constituents access to a grassroots tool to tell their elected leaders to support local workers and businesses by opposing government-mandated PLAs in federal infrastructure legislation.

The Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan infrastructure outline encourages Congress to tie federal investment of taxpayer dollars in infrastructure to costly PLA requirements. Other Biden administration policies encourage state and local governments to mandate PLAs on infrastructure projects receiving federal dollars. It has been reported that the Biden administration is also working on an executive order encouraging the use of PLAs on federal contracts for construction services.

Controversial terms in typical government-mandated PLAs discourage competition from qualified union and nonunion contractors and result in a rigged bidding process that forces contractors to:

  • Use union hiring halls to obtain most or all workers instead of their existing workforce.
  • Obtain apprentices exclusively from union apprenticeship programs.
  • Follow inefficient union work rules.
  • Pay into union benefit and multi-employer pension plans that any limited number of nonunion employees permitted on the project will be unlikely to access unless they join a union and vest in these plans.
  • Require their existing workforce to accept union representation, pay union dues and/or join a union as a condition of employment on a PLA job site and receiving benefits, resulting in an estimated 20% hit to the paychecks of local craft professionals.

ABC to Senate: The PRO Act Is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Associated Builders and Contractors | Originally posted on

Washington, July 22—Ahead of today’s U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’ hearing on the Protect the Right to Organize Act, Associated Builders and Contractors released the following statement:

“The PRO Act legislates away the basic employer and employee freedoms and choices that create long-term careers and make the construction workforce safer and more productive,” said ABC Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen. “Make no mistake: the PRO Act is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the American public deserves to know that it is nothing more than an attempt to strip workers of their privacy, freedom and choice.

“Among the many harmful provisions in this dangerous piece of legislation, the PRO Act tips the scales against workers and small businesses in union elections, eliminates basic employer and employee rights and imposes unbearable burdens on job creators,” said Swearingen. “Lawmakers must fully reject this bill and instead focus on creating legislative solutions that offer more freedom for workers to achieve their career dreams, not eliminating their choices. The workforce, and America, wins when people have that choice.”

Ahead of the hearing, ABC sent a letter opposition to the Senate HELP Committee.