States eager for stimulus funds

Dec. 3, 2008 at 10:20 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A federal stimulus package that funnels money to states must go to carefully chosen projects to have the desired effect, Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine said.

"The problem is going to be ... how to spend that money," Kaine said. "We all know about the bridges to nowhere. But we also know the projects that are critical to moving people around."

Forty-eight governors met with President-elect Barack Obama in Philadelphia Tuesday with many governors assuring Obama states could quickly put $136 billion to use, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Federal transportation authorities have also said about $225 billion a year is required to maintain and upgrade the nation's transportation infrastructure.

But, the National Governors Association said less than half the $136 billion involves projects that could be launched within six months, the Post said.

The economic slowdown has put the budgets of 41 states in the red. Maryland and Virginia have trimmed their long-term transportation programs by $1 billion each. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association said New York will cut back 10 percent on road projects.

"There's plenty of capacity, and there's a lot of workers," said Bill Buechner, chief economist at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

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