A large portion of the proposed $800 to $900 billion stimulus plan is directed toward infrastructure projects. The goals of these projects are first and foremost to create jobs and stimulate the economy, but also to complete vital upgrades to infrastructure that is terribly outdated and failing. When you think about these vital projects, you might picture 100-year old leaky underground water lines or bridges that are nearing collapse. These are projects that will create jobs and without a doubt fulfill a severe need for renovation. What you probably don’t picture when you think about these infrastructure projects are things like a 36-hole disc golf course (price tag $886,000), replacement tennis courts ($1.8 million) or an eco-park complete with a butterfly garden ($4.5 million), but these are all things that could potentially be paid for as part of the new stimulus package.
It should be noted that the above mentioned projects were only part of the nearly 19 thousand projects submitted by local governments as “Ready to Go” according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). They have not yet been approved, and it is not certain that they will become part of the final stimulus package. One would think, though, that these local governments would think a little harder before submitting potentially egregious projects like these, considering the recent taxpayer outrage expressed at how banks are using their stimulus money. In addition to the WSJ article, you will also find one that talks about teacher layoffs and large scale cuts to education budgets across the country. Don’t get me wrong, disc golf and butterflies are great, but why would we even consider investing millions of dollars into projects like this when we have so many other places where the money could be put to better use.
President Obama has said repeatedly that this bill will be entirely free of ear marks, and I certainly hope that is the case. I’m not sure how the public would react if they found that their tax dollars were going to fund disc golf courses and tennis courts while their kid’s teacher is laid off. I know we want to get the bill passed quickly, but let’s make sure we do it the right way. We need to make sure that this money is put to its best possible use. We don’t have billions of dollars to waste here, and I hope that the proponents of this bill recognize this.