Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Smart Stimulus

The Holiday Season is upon us. As we celebrate with friends and family, it is important for us all to remember the challenges that face our nation and the opportunities that await us in 2009.

PolicyLink, the Oakland-based "national research and action institute" reminds us of one of these opportunities in a newly-released, four-page policy paper called "Stimulus for Whom? Using Federal Infrastructure Investment to Chart a Brighter Future for All."

The paper raises an important question about how our much-talked-about federal stimulus dollars are going to be used. The paper explains:

"Professional organizations and coalitions across the country are developing lists of infrastructure projects that are 'ready to go' or 'shovel-ready.' While these lists demonstrate the vast need for infrastructure investment, most of them do not provide a useful way to identify projects that will generate equitable outcomes for the most distressed communities."

The paper argues:

"For the recovery package to truly be equitable, it must focus on three priorities: 1. Strengthen cities; 2. Create jobs for those who need them most; and 3. Fix aging infrastructure and focus on expansion of our transit systems."

Later:

"By targeting the infrastructure challenges that lie at the root of poverty in America—from inadequate public transit to crumbling schools, water systems, and parks—this recovery package could dramatically expand opportunity for all people."

We have the opportunity to start investing in our sustainable urban areas, cost-effective and fuel-efficient modes of mass transit, and job programs for those who need it most. However, there is a very real threat that we will squander this money if we rush to invest it without a smart plan and forward-looking priorities.

Read the full PolicyLink paper for a more detailed discussion on this important topic.

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