Castor: Tampa Bay will get its share of stimulus funds

05/11/09 Seán Kinane
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Communities in the United States that are in most need of job creation are least likely to benefit from federal stimulus transportation spending, according to an Associated Press analysis. Despite this, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor told a group of Hillsborough County Democrats today that plenty of stimulus funding is coming to the Tampa Bay area.

After reviewing $18.9 billion in stimulus funding, the AP found the federal government plans to spend 50 percent more per person in regions with the lowest unemployment rates than it will in the areas with the highest.

But Representative Castor told members of the Democratic Party of Hillsborough County on Monday that 13.4 billion dollars from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has saved Florida’s budget from “dire straights.”

A spokesperson for the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said the Obama administration should not have suggested that road construction funding would be a key way to help communities in need. Minnesota Democratic Representative James Oberstar’s spokesperson said that’s because the federal government does not have much control over how states spend recovery funds.

Castor thinks stimulus funding will help people in her district.

Castor’s district includes parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee counties. She says the stimulus bill will create “jobs, jobs, jobs” in the region through such projects as a highway connecting I-4 to the Port of Tampa. Castor says that $105 million in stimulus for the I-4 connector will create 13,000 jobs.

The AP study reviewed more than 5,500 planned transportation projects across the nation. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood responded by saying that in the long run, all Americans will benefit from stimulus funding. Workers in areas with high unemployment can commute and compete for jobs outside their area, Lahood said.

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