(Big Sky Connection) Senators in Washington, D.C. want to see a $50 billion infusion into America's rural areas - with the Rebuild Rural America Act.
The legislation is written to address rural America's unique challenges and would make it easier for smaller towns and counties to access federal grant money for desperately needed projects - from upgrading roads and bridges, to fixing schools and providing broadband internet.
Annie Contractor - associate manager of Government Affairs for the nonprofit RuralOrganizing.org - said this funding would ignite an economic comeback in parts of the country that often have a hard time competing for federal funds.
"Rural communities tend to have smaller populations. They tend to have less philanthropic presence," said Contractor. "So, the block grant funding, which would deliver funding directly to rural communities, is really important for an equitable distribution of those tax-funded programs that are meant to help communities thrive."
Seventy-three precent of Colorado is rural, while 13 percent of its residents live in a rural area and could potentially benefit from the legislation.
RuralOrganizing.org says eight out of ten distressed communities are rural, and 60 percent of residents in those areas are people of color.
Contractor said local flexibility is a crucial piece of the proposal, which would allow town and county leaders to design programs they know will help their specific communities.
"Anything from child care systems or subsidization, to infrastructure - like water, or roads," said Contractor, "to workforce development programs or training. A variety of things could be invested in to really help communities thrive. And that's really important, because every rural community is different."
She added that the Rebuild Rural America measure would build on investments the Biden administration has already made in rural parts of the country with the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill hasn't yet been assigned to a committee.