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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spending the Obama Money

Transportation Commissioner George Campbell didn't get everything he wanted for Christmas, but he making a list for someone with deeper pockets than Santa; the Federal Government:
"It's certainly the best opportunity that's come around in decades, and frankly, it's the best opportunity for infrastructure funding that's come around since the 1950s," said Commissioner George Campbell, who has been compiling a list of projects that could benefit from federal funding as part of Obama's stimulus package. The biggest item by far is more than $300 million to upgrade and double-track rail lines linking Manchester to Lowell, Mass.

Campbell is looking to spend hundreds of millions of dollars that may be coming in a new stimulus package being put together by the incoming Obama Administration. Trains have long been the pet project of "infrastructure" advocates, since most rail lines need far higher per-passenger subsidies than either roads or air travel. Campbell is also looking at ways to pour the anticipated stimulus money into New Hampshire roads:
Campbell's list also includes more than $220 million in "shovel-ready" highway projects that could be set to go within six months, which may be the standard for the stimulus package. On that list, the top priorities are $30 million for the Interstate 93 widening project south of Manchester, $4.5 million to replace a bridge on Route 4 in Lebanon and $12.5 million for the Manchester Boston Regional Airport access road.

The Union Leader article includes nearly $700 million in "Wish Lists" at a time when the state is running historic deficits in its General Fund, Education Fund, Highway Fund, and Pension Plan. Nor does anyone in the article explain how they would like this massive stimulus to be paid for. Presumably, it would just get tacked onto the national debt.

It seems that our state government, facing tight budgets after years of free spending, are having a hard time breaking its big-spending habit. Now, it's looking to Washington for its latest fix.

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