Obama Funds State Transportation Projects
President Barack Obama will send $473 million to 49 US states and Washington, D.C. for various transportation projects. These funds were earmarked for the projects in past federal budgets but were not spent.
States have until October 1 to tell the federal government how they will apply the funds for transit, highway, passenger rail or port projects. They must have a definite plan for the fund by December 31. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters that there were several reasons why the money wasn’t spent. The funds could be completing the earmarked projects or for new projects.
The Transportation Department totaled the amount of unspent funds for each state from 2003 to 2006. They will then aggregate the amount available. According Secretary LaHood, Wyoming didn’t have earmarks during that period.
White House maintained that Obama promised to veto any future legislation that has earmarks, which is also known as pork. People criticized the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska last 2005. Legislators shunned the practice of attaching projects in their home districts onto bills. Congress agreed in 2011 to place a two year moratorium on earmarks.
LaHood said that after two years of spending $48 billion via the 2009 economic stimulus plan on transportation, the Transportation Department is looking for ways to fund capital works as they wait for Congress to approve a long term transportation plan. Local and state authorities carry out most of the transportation projects.
When the crisis on housing occurred, a lot of construction workers lost their jobs. President Obama wanted to invest in public works as a way to give them jobs again. Recent data showed that the construction industry’s recovery is uneven. Over the past year, construction employment increased in 18 states and Washington, D.C. It went down in 31 states and was unchanged in Hawaii.