Budzinski Introduces Rebuild Rural America Act

By Benjamin Cox on June 22, 2023 at 8:52am

13th District Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski has introduced comprehensive legislation that would address rural communities’ struggles in gaining access to federal dollars for economic development.

The Rebuild Rural America Act asks the federal government to invest $50 billion in rural economic development, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and small businesses nationwide. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Budzinski says that rural communities across Central and Southern Illinois are facing massive generational challenges when it comes to updating crucial infrastructure, health care, and high-speed Internet.

The bill would establish a new national partnership model that would create a block grant program for long-term rural economic development projects specifically targeting investments in child care centers, public schools, libraries, community centers, health care providers, workforce development programs, emergency preparedness programs, main street revitalization programs and water and sewer facilities, among others. It would also clear the hurdles of arduous annual applications to funding opportunities by providing grantees with 5 years of guaranteed funding.

Further, Budzinski says the bill would also create a USDA Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration to help local leaders work directly with a federal government representative to help gain access to federal money and programs to clear the way of further hassles in the application process for various projects.

Another addition to the bill would launching the Rural Future Corps, a program that would place AmeriCorps Fellows in rural communities to help expand critical childcare, health, nutrition assistance, education and job training services to fight population loss.

The bill is now in front of House Assignments awaiting to be heard by a committee.