Later today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the “Jobs for Main Street Act,” which includes $50 billion in spending for highways, mass transit, affordable housing and school renovation. The bill provides that “priority shall be given to projects that are projected for completion within a 3-year time frame, and are located in economically distressed areas.”
It is a bill that creates jobs, that meets the needs of those who are unemployed, and puts us on a path to prosperity.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey added:
We want to redirect $75 billion which had been focused on the needs of Wall Street – we want to redirect that to Main Street and use it in order to preserve the jobs of teachers, firemen, policemen, prison guards, you name it, and at the same time provide another boost to construction of infrastructure projects around the country. If we don’t do this, we are going to see unemployment in the construction industry in some states approaching 30 and 35 percent.
Nice work if you can get it, but studies show that stimulus-funded jobs did not go to the people most in need. Minority workers and minority-owned businesses have been shoved aside.
A new report from the Transportation Equity Network shows infrastructure stimulus spending has bypassed the hardest-hit communities .
During a teleconference call, Laura Barrett, executive director of Transportation Equity Network, said:
Funds from ARRA are not reaching into our community and creating jobs. It seems that minorities and women are getting fewer jobs than they have in the past.
Barrett’s concerns about the inequities in infrastructure spending were echoed by Richard Copeland, founder and chairman of THOR Construction Inc., the largest African American-owned construction firm in the nation. Copeland observed:
We have been fighting this fight for inclusion in the mainstream of the economy for the last 20 years… Our communities have been systematically excluded… Once stimulus money comes in, it goes into the same grind mill. So it stands to reason that we would be excluded from stimulus projects. It’s not trickling down so that disadvantaged business firms are benefiting from the stimulus dollars.
Julie A. Cunningham, president and CEO of the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials, noted:
Instead of offering a hand up, ARRA is continuing the bad pattern of segregation that has long plagued federal programs.
Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, said that in order to fix the problem “we must understand how big the problem is and then develop innovative strategies.” LeRoy is pushing for Recovery.gov to add demographic data fields to the reports recipients are required to file. The data would include the race, gender and residential zip code of workers, as well as disadvantaged business contracting data.
Rev. Paul Slack of ISAIAH/New Creation Church cut to the chase:
There is too much focus on good faith when our focus should be on good results.
Can I get an Amen?!