The crowd eager for a handout from the upcoming economic stimulus bill is growing. On December 8th, the US Conference of Mayors presented their wish list. The report, entitled “Mainstreet Economic Recovery,” lists 11,391 local infrastructure projects with a price tag totaling $73.2 billion. Unfortunately, the list is basically a massive collection of earmarks with little chance of stimulating the economy. As with any collection of pork, some peculiar plans have begun to surface.
While the Mayors’ list contains scores of projects which could be easily defined as ineffective and wasteful, the $35.95 million for High School and Junior High football is particularly egregious.
For example, although the student-athletes in Sparks, Nevada appear to be doing quite well, they also need a bailout. Apparently the new $30 million facility which the city lauded in April as “the finest public park and sports complex in the western United States” isn’t quite enough. After only eight months Sparks is seeking $1,915,000 in federal funds to improve the facility further. Is this the crumbling infrastructure Speaker Pelosi wants to repair?
Here are the lucky football programs eyeing the potential economic stimulus bill:
- $1,915,000 – Sparks, NV – Golden Eagle Park Improvements: Including restroom facilities and concession stands in a new $30M astro-turf baseball, softball, football, volleyball and little league fields
- $3,800,000 – Orlando, FL – Jones High School-New School Stadium (Football/Track)
- $2,000,000 – Irvington, NJ – Rebuild the high school football/track field to professional standards
- $1,500,000 – Brockton, MA – North Jr. High Soccer and Football Field
- $6,500,000 – Lexington, KY – New Construction, Lafayette High School Football Stadium
- $2,676,250 – Miami, FL – Athalie Range Soccer/Football Field Improvements
- $16,000,000 – Elizabeth, NJ – Indoor/Outdoor Recreation complex to include indoor basketball courts, soccer fields, multi purpose rooms, and outdoor soccer/football field
- $1,558,767 – Auburn, WA – Auburn Memorial Stadium football/soccer field
Robert Poole, founder and director of transportation at Reason Foundation, sums up the mayors’ proposal well in his Wall Street Journal editorial:
The country does indeed need to invest in critical infrastructure. We have a backlog of deferred maintenance on both highways and bridges. According to Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report, 24% of U.S. bridges were reported structurally deficient or functionally obsolete in 2006. At the current rate of repair it will take 62 years for those bridges to be brought up to date. But it won’t take six decades to fix them because the government doesn’t have the money; it will take that long because our political leaders don’t prioritize. Too often they choose ribbon-cutting ceremonies at sports complexes over repairing bridges.
While $35 million for new football stadiums and sports complexes may be fun and popular, these projects will in no way stimulate the economy. Congress should keep these pork projects out of any upcoming economic stimulus bill.