Bah-dum, bah-dum, buh-dum, buh-dum… It could be the backbeat of the Beatles’ “Revolution 1” or it could be the beating of your heart the first time you fell in love or just your tires bumping over the cracks in the highway. But maybe the beat isn’t so steady. Buh-buh bing-dum, bah-dum thump-dum, feeling like Route 288 before it was recently fixed or Interstate 95 before the new surface makes it sing.
You might be listening to “Revolution” when you’re sitting in traffic on Route 10 at Old Stage Road and your radio blasts the classic, “You say you want to revolution, well you know…” and revolting against VDOT comes to mind.
But wait, your Battle of Concord will fade when the bridge on Route 10 is finally finished due to ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and you’re singing “Here Comes the Sun.” We sure are spending some money on getting our tires to sing Beatles classics.
Where did the cash come from to build the bridge to somewhere?
According to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office,) ARRA, commonly referred to as the Stimulus, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.
Well, I’ll be. I thought it just fell out of the sky, when in fact the money to restore pavement on Interstate 295, repaired or replace bridges on numerous highways in Central Virginia, while partially financing the Capital Trail – making bicycle and pedestrian travel down scenic Route 5, safe and extremely enjoyable – came from the Stimulus. The Stimulus money has funded over a dozen road and pedestrian projects in Central Virginia, not to mention the buses it bought for GRTC.
The ARRA brought a total of $43.5 million for transportation projects just in and around Richmond, according to the Richmond Region MPO. The primary objective for ARRA was to save and create jobs almost immediately. Secondary objectives were to provide temporary relief programs for those most impacted by the recession and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and “green” energy. The approximate cost of the economic stimulus package was estimated to be $831 billion with direct spending on infrastructure, education, health, and tax incentives for energy conservation projects – keeping those affected by the economic failure afloat.
Those millions of dollars for transportation seems all well and good, but what about helping me in my own back yard?
Chesterfield, while not getting completely out of hot water, did get a little leg-up during the crisis and could probably use another little boost going into the next couple of years.
The 2009 Stimulus provided Chesterfield support for almost every segment of its operation – a substantial lift to the tune of about $17 million – http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Chesterfield_County,_Virginia#Federa....
The affect on schools (K-12 through bachelors – community and trade schools included) of $64 million – http://projects.propublica.org/recovery/locale/virginia/chesterfield/dep... – saved jobs and left our schools only slightly off kilter.
Chesterfield didn’t do too badly on that initial Stimulus boost. Those laid off may disagree, but even with the ARRA, the county had to make some cuts. It was that bad. Also, the county stays a little behind the curve on its budget because they try to get ahead of the game so as to weather downturns like the one that began in 2008. But even the crystal ball at the county couldn’t predict the length and depth of the great recession.
But things are getting a little lighter. Chesterfield enjoys a lower than average 5.5 percent unemployment rate and other segments of our local economy are up, from a positive 4.8 percent in tourism to a whopping increase of 68 percent in business investment – thank you economic development department.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. This year, expect to see a reduction of your home assessment, for the fifth year, and an increase in real estate taxes. Officials said two years ago that it would be at least 2015 before we could see the easing of Chesterfield’s budget troubles.
Chesterfield also faces some uncertainty: What will happen with this so called “fiscal cliff” and how will affect us down here in Chesterfield? What will the Virginia General Assembly do to us?
In the budget recently submitted to Congress by the President there is a line item for another stimulus package. The first one did some good, but I’m told it takes years for stimulus to affect local economies – remember that the Route 10/Old Stage Road improvements built with Stimulus funds has yet to be completed.
The amount of this new stimulus is expected to be somewhere between $800 billion and $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years.
Republicans don’t like it one bit and maybe they shouldn’t. We’re already seeing signs, however slight, that maybe we can climb out of the slump without another shot of stimulus money.
On the other hand maybe another stimulus will raise all boats and make up for its affect on the Federal budget with the taxes it generates through an improved economy and all those taxable trips to Walmart to buy Beatles CDs.