Pennsylvania’s Stimulus Spending
Two weeks ago, the 120-day mark passed since the stimulus bill went into effect. Close to $26.6 billion of the $787 billion budget was set aside for flexible transportation spending, meaning that the states were responsible for determining project allocation. Pennsylvania received over one billion dollars from this fund, and, in a sign of commitment to strong investments, pledged more than 91% of the money to highway repairs and renovations. Such spending allows for a bigger portion of the money to be allocated towards hiring more workers and offering them family-supporting salaries. The stimulus aimed for this exact mission, and job increases are the product of money well-spent.
Regrettably, only four percent of the funds were spent on public transportation projects, and the focus here was on non-motorized options. Pennsylvania residents have continually expressed interest in more public transportation choices and it seems that the state should invest more funds into this initiative. Smart Growth America, who put out the stimulus spending report, states that “public transportation ridership is hitting all-time highs and the budget crunch is causing transit agencies to cut routes.” Public transportation systems are seeking much-needed relief from the demands placed upon them after budget shortfalls. These deficits have translated into decreased accessibility for passengers, and time and money are wasted due to traffic congestion. Ultimately, the taxpayers are the ones who are most affected by sub-par systems and lack of transportation options.
Nonetheless, the state’s focus on repairs is praise-worthy, especially when compared to other states that dedicated nearly all of their funds to building new roads. For example, Kentucky spent nearly 88% of the funds on new highway projects. Money funneled into new roads takes money away from work that aims to increase safety on established roadways, as well as work that promotes more sustainable development. In turn, the residents of these areas do not benefit fully from the stimulus funds.
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