Today Democrats in the US House unveiled a $825 billion stimulus plan that includes $30 billion for highway construction and $10 billion for transit. The rest of the money goes a tax cut ($500 for individuals and $1000 for families), to education, aid to states and unemployment benefits. A comittee summary of the bill is here (pdf).

If this is the bill as it gets passed, I’ll be very disappointed. Only about $1 billion will go to New Starts projects. The New Starts program is the funding mechanism that the FTA uses to give grants to projects like U-Link, Central Link or Portland’s Max. The bill has just $1.1 billion for intercity rail. There is a $31 billion provision for making our infrastructure more “energy efficient”, though that would likely be smart power grids and not transportation.

The Transport Politic has a detailed analysis.

16 Replies to “House Stimulus Package Unveiled”

  1. That’s not the full text of the bill — it’s a summary prepared by one of the committees overseeing it. I suspect that the legislative counsel folks are still drafting the actual text of the bill.

  2. My thoughts on the summary are here.

    It looks like way too little, particularly when they go through the bother of identifying billions of dollars in projects that are ready that they’re NOT going to fund. I am curious about the $1 billion to speed up light-rail. They say that $2.4 billion in pre-approved projects are available. Is University Link one of them? If so, a good chunk of that should be coming our way, which would be a silver lining.

  3. It’s not a ton of money. But this stimulus bill is above and beyond what would come in a transportation bill, which I assume is still underway, no? I mean, I know it’s not everything we’d want, but it’s all gravy, right? It’s not like this is the one and only chance to get transit funding in FY2009.

  4. Yeah, but it’s the one time they are spending hundreds of billions on infrastructure in one go.

  5. Well, not quite hundreds, but I see your point. Still, while it’s totally understandable to lunge for the giant pot of money, I think transit funding will come. There’s only so much transit that can plausibly qualify as “stimulus.” “Shovel-ready” and all that. I’d rather not see the money get wasted or get put toward a “train to nowhere.”

    If we’re going to get a modern rail network in this country, it’s going to come from sustained, increased annual federal funding, not a one-time bonanza.

    1. Yeah it’s a little more than $100 billion in infrastructure.

      But a one-time bonanza is so much more fun!

  6. What bothers me about this summary is that it lists something like $65 billion in identified projects that are not being funded. These are transit system repairs ($48 billion), capital investment grants for rail ($1.4 billion), ready-to-go transit projects including new buses ($9.5 billion), and upgrades to intercity rail ($8.9 billion).

    All of that is ready-to-go work, exactly what should be funded in this package. I can understand leaving HSR investments or major investments for commuter or light rail for the main transportation budget, but there’s really zero reason not to include every dollar of these projects in the current stimulus bill.

  7. i thought this stimulus bill called for huge spending on infrastructure especially highways in the magnitude of hundreds of billions. $30 billion for highways and $10 billion for rail and transit is one year’s typical spending.

    tax cuts now are a complete joke, we need jobs where people have a source of income to get money flowing again into the economy.

    1. Putting the money for tax cuts into food stamps and unemployment benifits would have more stimulus effect.

    2. I agree, tax cuts don’t make for great stimulus. I think it shows that there weren’t enough good shovel-ready projects to get started on.

      That and Obama wants to include republicans.

  8. The objections seem to be in the “this doesn’t do everything” or “this isn’t as pro-transit as I’d like it to be”. I haven’t heard anyone say that this was supposed to do everything OR solve all our transit problems. Calling it “insufficient” is a little dramatic.

    1. Who said “insufficient”? I said “disappointing”.

      Only time will tell whether it is sufficient. Paul Krugman doesn’t think so but others say it’s too big.

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