Building a rainy day fund with stimulus money

The other day, a headline came across my email: “N.D. keeps stimulus funds in reserve.” The story, in the Bismarck Tribune, says that due to the uncertain times, North Dakota transportation officials have decided to hold back about $78 million of the state’s $170 million in stimulus funds in case federal funding comes in short in 2010.

road.jpgGood idea? Maybe. But wasn’t the $787 billion stimulus bill supposed to help get America back on its feet? The article goes on to say that some states, such as Maine, had spent 100% of its stimulus dollars to date while others, like Nevada, has used only 35%. How is America going to get out of the economic doldrums if states don’t spend the money the way it was intended to be spent?

From the article: “Because our economy is in fairly good shape, we didn’t want to have a huge bubble of projects this year and then go back down to who knows how much next year,” said Scott Zainhofsky, a planning and programming engineer for the Dept. of Transportation.

I have an idea. If North Dakota is in good enough shape that the state doesn’t need this money right away to “stimulate” the economy, then perhaps the unused portion can go back to the federal government so it can be used in an area that really needs it.

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