Grow Smart: Gov, get rolling on stimulus


As Governor Carcieri prepares to outline spending cuts tonight, Grow Smart Rhode Island offers this:

In a letter delivered to the Governor, Grow Smart Executive Director Scott Wolf stated, “With all the uncertainty created by economic conditions these days, there are two things of which we can be certain. The first is that there will be a large economic stimulus package coming out of Washington this winter, and the second is that Rhode Island, which has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, needs that economic stimulus package as much as any state.”

Wolf noted that Grow Smart Rhode Island views the federal economic stimulus package not only as an opportunity to gain a much-needed, rapid infusion of dollars into the Rhode Island economy but also as an opportunity to make significant investments in such building blocks of sustainable prosperity as public transit, historic governmental properties, including schools, and water and sewer infrastructure.  Because the economic stimulus package represents such an important opportunity, on December 18, 2008, Grow Smart sent a letter to the Governor requesting copies of any project lists that are being developed. 

“Unfortunately,” Wolf reported, “so far it doesn’t appear that Rhode Island is moving aggressively enough to ensure that we will be in a position to respond quickly and comprehensively when the economic stimulus package becomes available.” Wolf reported that the Governor’s Office told Grow Smart that the State Department of Transportation is putting together a list of transportation projects that should be ready by the end of this week. However, the Governor’s Office did not indicate that any steps had been taken to develop a list of economic stimulus projects other than transportation projects.” 

In contrast, Governors in neighboring states began proactively working with state agencies and municipalities in the final months of 2008 to identify projects that could potentially meet economic stimulus criteria. 

In Connecticut, Governor M. Jodi Rell sent a letter to cities and towns on December 9, 2008, requesting their input in developing a comprehensive list of projects.  The letter directed that the municipalities should not only recommend projects they would like to see funded but that they should provide information for each project, including whether all necessary design work has been completed, whether all necessary local, state and federal permits have been received, and an estimate of the number of jobs the project is likely to create.  A second letter on December 17, 2008, stressed the importance of identifying projects that would meet “shovel-ready” criteria and reminded municipalities to submit their list of projects by December 31, 2008. ....

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