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Highway money on states’ radar

States are hoping that a job-creating initiative to be outlined by President Obama on Dec. 8 will include billions of dollars for infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, recession-worn Michigan may be ineligible for $475 million in federal highway money next year because it can’t find $84 million in matching state funds.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has identified 9,500 “ready-to-go” infrastructure projects around the nation and wants Congress and the Obama administration to provide states with as much as $69 billion to pay for them, The Washington Times reports. The push by the association underscores criticism that the federal government’s $787 federal stimulus plan “gave short shrift to job-creating highway and transit construction,” the paper says.

“Critics from both sides of the aisle said the first stimulus added to the heap of public debt and did not spur enough job growth,” The Times reports. “Mr. Obama is expected to respond Dec. 8 by announcing infrastructure projects as a chief component of (new) stimulus measures. He will make the speech at the Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington.”

In Michigan, the state may lose out on nearly half a billion dollars in federal highway money next year – and as much as $2.1 billion through fiscal 2014 – because it can’t match all the federal funds it is eligible to receive, Crain’s Detroit Business reports.

“The lowered (state) investment would, in fiscal 2011 alone, lead to an estimated 47 percent drop in highway program-related jobs, from 17,070 in the current year to 8,988,” according to Crain’s, which reports that Michigan lawmakers have overlooked highway funding as they have dealt with a host of other budget problems.

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