Infrastructure As Defined By The Nation’s Mayors

The U.S. Council of Mayors was asked to come up with their list of “shovel ready” projects that could be included in the stimulus bill and they sure didn’t disappoint anyone.

The mayors were able to come up with 18,570 projects that would cost around $149 billion. All of that on short notice too. They figure that their project would generate 1.6 million new jobs. Now if you start doing the math here, that’s an interesting number.

Recall that the Obama administration claims the entire bill is supposed to generate somewhere between 3 million and 4 million jobs at a cost of $750 billion and climbing. I believe everyone sort of compromised on 3.7 million jobs as a likely number. Now the majors say that for a mere $150 billion they could generate 1.6 million jobs. So if we gave them twice as much money they’re close to what Obama and Congress promise us for much more money. Maybe we should pay more attention.

Or, on second thought, maybe not. Some of the projects might be a bit difficult to justify politically. For example, Vegas wants $2 million for neon signs and Boynton Beach, Florida wants $4.5 million for an “eco park”. It will feature butterfly gardens and gopher tortoises. Here is a bit bigger sample of what was on the wish list compliments of the WSJ:

Some Proposed Projects

Location Project Cost Jobs Created
Austin, Texas Building a 36-hole disc golf course $886,000 4
Boynton Beach, Fla. Development of an “eco park” with butterfly garden $4.5 million 50
Virginia Beach, Va. Replacement tennis courts $1.8 million 38
Shreveport, La. Purchase of eight police-equipped Harley-Davidson motorcycles $150,000 1
Chula Vista, Calif. Construction of a dog park $500,000 7

Source: The United States Conference of Mayors’ Main Street Economic Recovery report

Now before you blow all of this off, remember that a lot of the fiscal stimulus money is going to flow to states and then to local governments in the form of block grants. The locals in other words are going to have the final say on how the money gets spent. The stimulus bill talks about justification, inspectors and posting everything on the Web but we all know how that goes. But then again, just reviewing projects and chasing down the fraud might be the biggest job creator of all.  

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