Stimulus Shortchanges Cities

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2009 7:43 AM CDT
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, left, stands in a group near exit eight of the New Jersey Turnpike, July 2, 2009, as he announces a $2.7 billion plan to widen one of the nation's busiest toll roads.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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(Newser) – Two-thirds of the country lives in big cities, but less than half of the federal stimulus’ transportation money is going to fix their often crumbling roads, the New York Times reports. States were allowed to decide for themselves how stimulus money was spent, and state lawmakers have a long history of spending disproportionately on less-populous areas, to please as many lawmakers as possible.

“If we’re trying to recover the nation’s economy, we should be focusing where the economy is,” says one Brookings Institute fellow. The nation’s top 100 cities contribute 75% of its economic activity. “But states take this peanut-butter approach, taking the dollars and spreading them around very thinly.” Still, there’s hope for cities; though 70% of the federal money went to states, 30% went to metropolitan planning organizations that haven’t yet filed all their projects.