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California Officials Eye Stimulus Money

Black Voice News, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Jan 08, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama arrived on Capitol Hill Monday and immediately began selling his $775 billion bipartisan stimulus plan.

Our economy is sick. American families, businesses and states are bleeding. Right now, the most important task for us is to stabilize the patient, said Obama.

Its not just California and other states that want federal stimulus dollars aimed at creating jobs by jump starting infrastructure projects cities and counties do, too.

Inland Empire cities are pondering how they would use their share of the multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package proposed by the president-elect.

Congressional hearings have yet to begin on the plan but already many local governments are competing for a share of the package expected to pump $600 to $850 billion into the troubled economy.

While all that stimulus money is imaginary at this point San Bernardino interim City Manager Mark Weinberg has started earmarking projects where the cash would be put to good use.

The idea is to get shovels in the ground, to put people to work, he said. This is an opportunity to get a jump start on projects that are not only an immediate boost to the regional economy, businesses and families, but speak to long term statewide economic growth.

Weinberg said the county will focus on highway and bridge upgrades along the accident prone, heavily traveled 15/215 freeway interchange in Devore, the I-10 corridor in San Bernardino County and a planned toll road linking Victor Valley with the Antelope Valley.

Riverside County officials are seeking millions for everything from highway projects to sewer and water treatment systems. Other Inland public works officials say they want more information on the parameters of the stimulus funds before deciding which projects to pursue.

All of the projects being submitted are expected to get underway within 180 days and take one to five years to complete. The target set by the Obama administration is to create 3 million jobs. Congress will need to approve the federal stimulus package, which Obama has said he intends to sign shortly after taking office Jan. 20.

The question of where the stimulus money would be funneled already is causing some friction between local and state governments. On Dec. 2, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger along with 47 other governors met with Obama and urged the president-elect to give most of the infrastructure money to the states to make up for budget cuts.

The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties countered with a report stating that the most effective use of the money is to send it directly to the local level rather than letting the states distribute it.

While local leaders are playing down the idea that states are competing with local entities for a share of stimulus cash, some are quietly lamenting, Judging from the budget gridlock and bickering in Sacramento, expect any funds sent to the state to become yet another partisan political football.

Related Articles:

Black Middle Class in Crisis

Black Businesses Will Benefit from Stimulus Plan

Jobless Claims Show Unexpected Improvement

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