Infrastructure Fallout: The Long-Term Ramifications of Federal Spending

In this four-part series, analysts at The Council of State Governments (CSG) examine areas that could create long-term impacts in the lives of American Citizens should the $1 trillion spending bill become law.

The $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB) proposes to allocate federal dollars to a multitude of projects. For example, $2 billion is designated for rural road expansion, bridges and surface transportation projects. BIB also provides $3 billion for the Tribal Transportation program over five years. The Tribal Transportation Program is the largest of the Office of Federal Lands Highway, receiving $505 million in Fiscal Year 2020, according to Public Law 114-94.

In July, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) joined the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, lauding the infrastructure plan as necessary because the nation’s infrastructure systems are unacceptable for a 21st Century economy.

However, a 2015 article from McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, points to potential negative ramifications of such large-scale infrastructure projects.

“The risks associated with megaprojects — those that cost $1 billion or more — are well documented. In one influential study, Bent Flyvbjerg, an expert in project management at Oxford’s business school, estimated that nine out of ten go over budget. Rail projects, for example, go over budget by an average of 44.7 percent, and their demand is overestimated by 51.4 percent. McKinsey has estimated that bridges and tunnels incur an average 35 percent cost overrun; for roads, it’s 20 percent. Given that many projects are approved with a 20 percent return on investment expected, this leaves governments to pick up the tab for the rest,” the article stated.

The article went on to assert such infrastructure project timelines often are underestimated and that these projects can often take 10 to 15 years to complete.

In addition, there is growing concern about delays caused by a shortage of skilled workers necessary to completing the projects. According to John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor Construction: “I’d be surprised if there’s any firm out there saying they’re ready for this. “We will have to staff up, and no, there are not enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.”

Overall, the timeline on some of these massive projects that will result from the Infrastructure bill that is currently sitting in the United States House of Representatives could potentially create more headaches in the immediate future — traffic jams and road closures — with final results decades away.


NBWA Announces More than 26,000 Employees Trained through Distributors Against Human Trafficking Initiative

by Julianne Stahl

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), a CSG Associate, announced that more than 26,000 beer distribution employees have been trained through its Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative.  NBWA made the announcement during its 84th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas. This surpasses NBWA’s goal to train 25,000 beer distribution employees across the country to spot and report signs of human trafficking by the end of this year. The initiative has been recognized with the American Society of Association Executives 2021 “Power of A” Gold Award.

Working alongside a bipartisan group of state attorneys general and state alcohol regulators, the Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative centers around an awareness training video to help train the more than 140,000 beer distribution employees in the U.S. to recognize and report signs of human trafficking. Beer distributors are uniquely positioned to help fight this heinous crime given their level of access to locations often unseen by the public as they visit around 600,000 licensed retailers across the country.

“We have been blown away by the support our members have shown for the Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative since its launch last year,” said NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser. “Our initial goal was to train just over 10,000 beer distributors to recognize and report the signs of human trafficking by the end of 2021. We have now more than doubled that number with more than 26,000 employees trained.”  

“Because of this campaign, more and more hardworking men and women across the country are looking for signs of human trafficking,” Purser continued. “Beer distributors are making a difference — they are helping save peoples’ lives. NBWA promises our continued support, and we will make our best effort to provide the resources necessary to keep beer distributors vigilant in this fight, ensuring they’re well positioned to do their part to eradicate this crime from the communities they love and know so well.” 

For more information about the initiative, visit

Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers

By: Sean Slone

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the nation’s mental health. Fortunately, this global pandemic has also placed a spotlight on both the long-standing challenges in providing mental health services and the programs, policies, interventions and legal remedies that have proven most effective in addressing those challenges.

As the pandemic entered its second year, The Council of State Governments (CSG) embarked on a nine-month partnership with The Commonwealth Fund to assemble this Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers. The goal of the project was to highlight the challenges and solutions across these four focus areas in mental health policy:

  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Maternal mental health
  • Social determinants of mental health
  • Mental health insurance parity

To inform the content of this resource guide, CSG formed a 19-member advisory group made up of state legislators from six states, state executive branch health officials from eight additional states and subject-matter experts in each focus area. During a series of meetings in the spring and summer of 2021, the group heard presentations about existing research findings related to the challenges in each area and shared strategies for addressing them. The discussions were informed by the work of the CSG research team, which produced extensive research and policy scans for each focus area.

With oversight from The Commonwealth Fund and input from other stakeholders, CSG policy analysts and researchers drew on information gleaned during the advisory group sessions, those extensive summaries and additional research to produce the series of briefs that comprise this resource guide. Each focus area section includes:

  • A policy brief that succinctly defines the issue, considers the policy challenges and reviews the menu of legislative, programmatic and other opportunities available to policymakers based on previously enacted successful policies
  • A brief on approaches to data collection and analysis that advises policymakers on strategies to build research that is focused on the most effective interventions and that addresses how to emulate successful programs and how to implement experimental research designs for new programs
  • A case study brief highlighting a successful program, intervention, initiative or state law designed to address a particular negative outcome, often within a specific community, that has been championed by state policymakers or others

As the nation begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the strategies contained within this resource guide can help policymakers address the mental health challenges that have united many Americans during this time, despite differences in age, race, identity, geography, political leaning or cultural affiliation. These strategies — from the simplest to the most complex — can be an important step forward to further connecting individuals and communities, recognizing the importance of mental health to a collective future.

CSG Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers

Read the Resource Guide Executive Summary

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Social Isolation and Loneliness

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Maternal Mental Health

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Social Determinants of Mental Health

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Mental Health Insurance Parity

CSG West Presents Fahrenkamp Award to The Honorable Federico F. Peña

On Wednesday, September 29, The Council of State Governments West (CSG West), during its 74thannual meeting in Colorado Springs, awarded the Bettye Fahrenkamp Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership on Behalf of Western States to the Honorable Federico F. Peña.

After graduating from the University of Texas, Austin, with both a bachelor’s and law degree, Peñapracticed law for several years before moving to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, he worked with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund focusing focused on civil rights and voting issues. In 1979 he won a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives where he quickly ascended to the role of minority leader.

After several years of legislative service, he ran a successful campaign to become the mayor of the city of Denver where he made history as the first Hispanic mayor of the city. During his time as mayor, he worked to advance several significant projects including the development of the Denver International Airport and the acquisition of a Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies.

After his service as mayor, Peña’s call to public service led him to the District of Columbia where he served in two cabinet appointments in the Clinton Administration: Secretary of Transportation and then Secretary of the Department of Energy. In addition to his public service, he has founded an investment advisory firm, served as a Managing Director of a private equity firm, and served on the boards of several public companies and non-profit associations.

The Fahrenkamp Award, which is awarded annually, recognizes leaders whose legislative careers demonstrate the ability to see and work beyond the border of their own states in the interest of the West. The award is named in honor of Bettye Fahrenkamp of Fairbanks, Alaska, who served with distinction in the Alaska State Senate from 1979 until her untimely death in 1991.