Stimulus money for buildings?

One of the questions posed in my July/August issue editorial:

When are we going to see stimulus money spent on something other than roads?
   Not soon, according to a survey released July 30 by the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, VA. According to the report, “the stimulus plan appears to be having little influence on construction companies’ ability to expand payrolls to date. The disappointingly slow pace of construction spending outside of the transportation sector is one of the main reasons for the relatively small impact on new hiring.”
   Association CEO Stephen Sandherr said that we are five months into a federal stimulus program that has approximately $135 billion dedicated for construction projects and there is little difference in hiring and purchasing patterns between companies doing stimulus-funded work and companies that aren’t. He stated that while 36% of construction companies with stimulus-funded work plan to hire new employees, an almost identical percentage of firms without stimulus-funded work also plan to make new hires this year or next.
   Why? Very little of the stimulus dollars have resulted in actual construction work. The Army Corps of Engineers has $4.6 billion and has only paid out $84 million. The General Services Administration has $5.9 billion and has paid out only $12 million.—Gary L. Parr

H.R. 2187 a drop in the bucket?

In a May 14 blog item, I discussed legislation H.R. 2187, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which, that day, was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill, should it be enacted, would authorize $6.4 billion for school districts to do green-oriented renovation work in 2010. To me, $6.4 billion seemed like a ton of money that would make a significant difference.
   It became obvious to me that I have absolutely no concept of how far a billion dollars will go when I received a press release a few days ago for the Green California Schools Summit (Dec. 9 to 11, Pasadena). That release refers to H.R. 2187 and then states, “There’s lots of work to be done. The American Federation of Teachers estimates it would cost just short of $225 billion to fully renovate and repair schools across the country.”
   If my calculator is accurate, that puts us $218.6 billion short of the needed funds! H.R. 2187 doesn’t even get us in the parking lot with the heavy equipment.
   Who is going to provide the rest of the funding? I’ve not recently heard of any states being flush with cash, particularly California, so that’s not a source. I don’t know of one U.S. citizen who will vote for anything that resembles a tax increase and any legislator who supports a tax increase is likely signing his/her own political death warrant.
   I still hope that H.R. 2187 gets enacted, but it’s going to take a few more of those $6.4-million payouts to truly make a difference.—Gary L. Parr