Tuesday, February 17, 2009

St. Louis Stimulus

Today President Obama signs the $787 billion dollar economic stimulus package. The plan calls for a wide range of interventions aimed at reviving our nation's struggling economy.

The plan calls for major infrastucture investments, aid to state governments, and tax breaks for working Americans and corporations. At $787 billion, the amount works out to about $2,600 for US citizen. That doesn't sound like much. So government leaders have been working to decide how best to target the resource.

A major priority for the stimulus plan is jobs. Whether job creation or job preservation. President Obama states the plan will generate approximately 3.5 million jobs. Second on the priority list is housing. The third leg is infrastructure.

The nation's housing market is in trouble, with millions of foreclosures and declining property values. St. Louis is one of the nation's major centers for automobile manufacturing. The future of the US auto industry looms large in determing the direction of our region's economy. For years' we've had a national call to rebuild our nation's aging infrastructure, and contained in the stimulus plan is billions for new light rails, road construction, and education projects. So what about St. Louis?

At about 3,000,000 (give or take), the St. Louis region has about 1% of the US population. If we receive a prorata share of the stimulus plan, our region would realize $7.87 billion in stimulus help.

With the City of St. Louis having about 1/10 of the region's population, the city would see about $787 million in help (thanks to a reader for correcting this amount). However, knowing that things won't be doled out on a prorata basis, there's likely going to be a substantially larger amount of funding coming to St. Louis for local stimulus efforts.

The National League of Cities has made the case for projects to managed at the local, not state level. They are working to get the help to the project locations more quickly. St. Louis submitted a proposal for local priorities as part of the League of Cities request. The package included light rail and multiple public infrastructure investments.

A website, "Stimulus Watch", details proposed economic stimulus spending. St. Louis has a request in the amount of $2.45 billion pending. The breakdown is available here. The site is interactive and allows visitors to vote on individual projects.

Knowing that stabilizing housing markets, building new infrastructure, and providing for job creation and preservation are the nation's top goals of the stimulus plan, what projects would you like to see prioritized in St. Louis?

6 comments:

Rudie said...

Rick,

If the overall stimulus is $787 billion, and the metro area gets $7.87 billion, and the city is 10% of the metro area, that means the city would get $.787 billion - or 787 million dollars, not the 78 million you reference.

Jason

Rick Bonasch said...

Duly noted...thanks for the correction. That number sounds a lot better!

Anonymous said...

The best thing they could do with the stimulus money is repeal the city income tax. That will have an impact that no "project" could match.

Rick Bonasch said...

Personally, I don't have much of an issue with the earnings tax.

It's only 1%, and its paid by both workers and residents. On a $50,000 income, it's $500.

And for that $500, we get unlimited trash removal, convenient dumpsters, separated trash and yard waste, free street trees and maintenance, and a 50/50 sidewalk replacement program.

From a purely financial standpoint, I am certain the amount we save in gasoline and trash removal expense is more than what we pay in earnings taxes.

The city has many amenities and the earnings tax is a major percentage of the city's operating budget. I'd rather pay the tax than lose the amenities.

Until there is a good alternative to the earnings tax, perhaps a more regional system, I am okay paying the tax as part of enjoying city residency.

Adam S. said...

I see that there are several listings at the bottom for transit, including $900,000 for North/South Metrolink expansion. Is there any way we can organize to push in particular for the public transit projects?

Anonymous said...

The City will be lucky to get $20 million according to the State of Missouri and East West Gateway.

We get screwed by Jeff City again.