A friend of mine, out on the Coast, sent along this web site for "shovel ready projects." This is not the Stimulus Bill, per se, but rather a list of projects from the US Conference of Mayors. I expect we know them--cities over 30,000, and they know us.
I wondered about the list, since Lowell is not mentioned. While the Commonwealth overall has 266 projects, valued at $1,072,920,450 (that is a trillion dollars), we are not listed for any. Haverhill has 16 and Lynn has 30.
So, I asked.
I got back a very nice EMail from City Hall that told me that this is not the list of what the Stimulus will pay for but of what the US Conference of Mayors is sanctioning. To understand this, think of the US Conference of Mayors as a "K Street" lobbying firm (down in DC). While not quite of the order of Paul Magliaccetti Associates (PMA), which is now under investigation and is causing ripples on Capitol Hill for the likes of Representative John Murtha, the Mayors Conference does exist to put forward the views of a collective of Mayors from around the US.
Why is Lowell not on the list? Perhaps because our elected officials elected to save the $12,242 and not join this year. That makes good sense to me in this time of limited money.
That is NOT to say we are not in the hunt for projects. In fact, rather than working with a lobbyist organization in DC, our city worked directly with state and federal officials. We submitted over 80 projects to Lt Governor Tim Murray's office--the central clearing house for Massachusetts towns and cities. We are on some lists and we already have received allocations of over $4.5 million for DPD programs (from the Stimulus). And, the Lowell National Historical Park looks to receive almost $10 million.
As a reminder of the Stimulus Package itself, here is David Pevear's 15 February article out of The Lowell Sun. He quotes City Manager Bernie Lynch and US Representative Niki Tsongas. No specifics.
There are some negative views on the Stimulus Package. Here Economist James Bohn argues that Massachusetts will be a net loser, over time, from the Stimulus Package.
The problem is, the economic problem is now and not later. Yesterday the Department of Labor announced US unemployment to be 8.1% in February. And, as Professor Paul Krugman points out, if you are going the Keynesian route, it will likely take three times the $787 billion stimulus package to pull it off.
The one thing I hope is that local folks are smart enough to not (repeat not) use any of this money for pay raises or to establish new long term programs. Eventually the stimulus money will go away and the only way it will be replaced will be through a local override of property taxes. Create local jobs and keep people employed a little while longer. Repair the infrastructure and do new construction that will be fully funded by the stimulus. However, no commitments that will exceed the life of the Stimulus Package, as that will come out of our own local (city) taxes somewhere down the road--at a time when we will be forking over money to pay back the debt incurred by the stimulus.
Regards -- Cliff