Construction organizations—as well as transportation and energy groups—were ready with comments and reactions to President Obama's State of the Union address. Here's a sample:
Many groups welcomed Obama's pro-infrastructure comments and used them as a springboard to urge quick action on overdue highway-transit legislation.
For example, Pete Ruane, American Road and Transportation Builders CEO, said: “President Obama deserves credit for remaining focused on the need to improve the nation’s ailing transportation network....."
Ruane added: "In recent days, House and Senate leaders from both parties have expressed their intention to move forward soon on their respective bills. Of course, many cynics and pundits have already said that there will be few legislative achievements in a presidential election year. This is an opportunity to prove them wrong."
Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater was on the same wavelength: "What we need from Washington to help our efforts succeed is an infrastructure program that will help U.S. manufacturers complete globally. It is time for Congress and the Administration to pass a fully-funded highway bill and not more short-term stopgap measures.
Laborers' International Union of North America General President Terry O'Sullivan said: "We applaud his proposal to invest half of our nation's 'peace dividend' in rebuilding America’s basic, critical infrastructure. Congress can start by passing a long-term highway and transit bill by March 31 that makes a full investment in rebuilding America's basics—the highways, bridges and transit systems that are falling apart across the country."
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Executive Director John Horsley added: "The president's words and recent actions by congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle give transportation proponents optimism that an agreement can be reached on a multiyear transportation reauthorization bill in the near future."
Associated Builders and Contractors 2012 National Chairman Eric Regelin commented on the president's statement that he will issue an executive order to speed up infrastructure project approvals. Regelin said that the details of the proposal aren't clear yet, "but any sincere effort to [cut red tape] must involve the elimination of government-mandated project labor agreements and Davis-Bacon wage requirements on taxpayer-funded construction projects."
Regelin blasted Obama's proposed 30% tax on those with incomes over $1 million, which Regelin said "will expose the 80% of construction firms that are taxed at the individual rate to a significant tax increase."
Obama's discussion of an "all-out, all-of-the-above" energy strategy, drew reactions from organizations in that sector.
Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan said Obama "asked Congress to send him a bill that incorporates energy efficiency and creates jobs. Congress already has one in the pipeline."
She added, “The bipartisan Shaheen-Portman bill [in the Senate]...would increase energy efficiency across our economy by strengthening building energy codes, providing financing options for manufacturers and requiring the federal government to improve its energy management. We urge Congress to pass it."
But American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President Steve Miller said something was missing from the president's energy comments. Miller said: "The State of the Union address was most notable for what was left unsaid, namely any mention of coal—America's dominant source of electricity—in the president’s plan for our nation’s energy future."
National Association of Home Builders Chairman Bob Neilsen zeroed in on the president's proposal to give "every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low rates." Neilsen's response was a measured one: "President Obama's refinancing plan offers an opportunity for continued exploration of ways to aid struggling home owners and tackle the foreclosure crisis."