I started writing this column on Monday hoping to find some answers about the future of our economy. The stimulus bill that has been at the center of …
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I started writing this column on Monday hoping to find some
answers about the future of our economy.
The stimulus bill that has been at the center of our nation’s
collective attention for so long was finalized last week and I was
anxious to learn what it meant for our corner of the world in South
But from the looks of it, the Feb. 17 signing only launched the
next murky phase of the process, which is figuring out how to
access the money made available by this bill.
I went through my normal reading routine expecting to come away
with some sense of clarity now that the bill was set. Instead, I
found more questions than answers.
I read breakdowns of the money coming to Colorado, but it’s not
exactly clear reading. I read about tensions building between
governors and mayors nationwide as competition for funding gets
under way. Before long, I had nearly a dozen articles open on my
browser and I was clumsily trying to connect the dots between each
one as I tried to understand what to expect from this bill.
Finally, I gave up and decided to wait until I could call folks in
government Feb. 17 and have them walk me through my questions.
As I drove home, I stumbled across Gov. Bill Ritter on the radio
with Caplis and Silverman answering some of the questions I had
been wrestling with all afternoon.
When asked how Colorado fared compared to other states as far as
the amount of money it will receive, Ritter said that was a
question better answered three or four months from now.
“A lot of what is being talked about now, a few days into this,
is guesswork on what states are actually going to receive,” Ritter
So much for my search for relief and comfort. What came crashing
home to me as I took in all of this is that we’re not dealing with
found money. It’s not as if the bill was signed and state
Legislatures woke up the next day to find money in their coffers
that would have work on shovel-ready projects under way by the
weekend. Instead, these are federal dollars available through the
same dizzying labyrinth of restrictions that stand in front of all
I don’t know how the supply of funding provided by this bill
will match up with the demand for money, but there will certainly
be more demand than supply and the stage is set for a money-grab
governed time-consuming politics and compromise.
If I’m right, the bottom line is that there are still a number
of decisions to be made about how the money will be spent, which
shovel-ready projects will be funded and which ones are shelved for
The one thing that has made sense to me about all of this is the
regional approach some or our communities are taking with their
projects. I firmly believe that leaders representing individual
communities in the South Metro area need to look at the area as one
entity. From an economic standpoint, there are no discernable
boundaries separating Castle Rock from Parker from Lone Tree from
Littleton from Englewood.
If a paving project on Broadway is funded, that will create or
save jobs right here. Those saved jobs will put money into
restaurants in Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree, which will create
jobs there and hopefully the snowball will continue to roll.
I used Broadway as an example because I see what Littleton and
Centennial have agreed to do in splitting the cost of repaving the
high-traffic road that borders both cities as an example of what
all communities in our area should be doing right now — recognizing
projects that can be shared and have the most benefit.
I don’t know where the stimulus package will take us, but we
need to use whatever it provides us wisely and unselfishly.
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