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Texas near bottom in ‘effective’ job stimulus spending

Only 27% for preservation

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A study just out by Smart Growth America found that money spent from the 2009 stimulus on transportation was not used as well as it could have been, according to The Daily Beast. The report findings listed Texas at 47th of the 50 states in how they used the $2.2 billion in government funding.

States who spent parts of the almost $30 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on existing transportation needs like fixing up existing systems had better outcomes of creating new jobs and improving current transit problems, according to the study. These states created more jobs faster and fixed the road problems too. States that used the money to build new roads and highways while neglecting existing problems were less effective at creating new jobs.

Of the money that Texas received, about 27% went to highway preservation (repairing current highways), while 63% went to new capacity roads. The report also showed that only 59% of current Texas are listed as “in good condition.” Compared to states like Connecticut, Maine, and the District of Columbia who spent 100% of their allocation on existing roads, Texas did not fare well.

Newsweek writer David Graham says:

The government, of course, meant to get the biggest bang for its buck. The stimulus bill forced states to spend their allocated cash quickly, which was intended to get them to fund maintenance needs—“shovel-ready projects”—that had already been identified. Building miles of new roads, on the other hand, requires planning, land acquisition, and other lengthy steps that put fewer workers on the job immediately.

President Obama also called for transportation funding in the State of the Union address, according to Graham:

The federal government may soon be writing more checks to the states. Although Republicans have pledged to cut spending, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who has spoken about the poor state of the nation’s infrastructure, is likely to get on board. Infrastructure spending has traditionally been popular with voters.
And any stipulation on how to spend the money is unlikely this time around, too. Congress has repeatedly failed to pass a long-term, comprehensive transportation bill that could include guidance on spending. Instead, they’ve passed extensions to the now-expired SAFETEA-LU bill, and if they do so again, the old system—which gives states significant leeway—could stay in place during future spending, raising the specter of dollars inefficiently spent. Again.

To see how other states used the money, see full article.

Source: The Daily Beast
Photo Source: Ziff Law

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