Local Governments Can Do Distributed Stimulus

promoted by Rosi

Here’s the thing: the United States still needs more stimulus.  

And here’s a fact to keep in mind: Private industry payrolls have grown dramatically over the past three years, but the unemployment rate has remained high because public payrolls at the state, local and school levels have fallen significantly.

Here’s another thing: Even after Democrats won the popular and electoral vote for President, won two additional seats in the US Senate despite defending more than twice the incumbents, and won as many as seven additional seats in the US House despite partisan post-census redistricting the GOP is not going to let additional stimulus pass.

So if we’re not likely to get federal help, how do we get stimulus?  

At the state, local and school levels.

Think about it.  New Jersey alone has 21 counties, 556 municipalities and 590 operating school districts.  That’s more than 1100 governmental entities in the state, and at least half of them are majority run by Democrats.

So let’s conservatively assume that’s 500 governmental entities controlled by Democrats, Democrats who control the budgets and hiring and borrowing and public works projects.  

Each of these entities has infrastructure that needs fixing, whether it’s the sewers, buildings, parks, creeks and ponds, bridges and roads, heating and cooling, vehicles, whatever.  These are needs that have to be addressed in the next two to twenty years in most cases, and it doesn’t matter when.

The tradition is to push these things off in order to keep the budget down in an effort to keep the tax rate down.  This often results in emergency repairs (sewer collapses during storms, heating system dies in winter, whatever) that cost far more.

So if these entities averaged just one significant project — $1,000,000 or more – the increase in employment would be huge.  A fire district could buy a new truck, and though the jobs would be elsewhere it would still exist and the town would be safer.  A town could add three roads to their paving schedule and fund a couple jobs for a paver.  A school district could hire two new custodial staff to do repairs and upgrades.  A city can restore a few miles of cracking sewers, which not only creates public and private jobs but also reduces sewerage costs for residents due to ground water inflow.

Pave roads, buy cop cars, hire a cop, increase teacher’s aids, upgrade the school audio-visual equipment, buy new instruments (locally!),etc.  

Like distributed solar systems generate a lot of power from a million telephone poles and roofs, this would be distributed stimulus from a lot of different local governments.

$500,000,000 pumped into the state economy not only reduces unemployment immediately but also stimulates private market growth.  And the effort is spread over 500 entities so no one is overwhelmed, and if done with bonds it is easier to slip into the useless and easily jobbed caps passed by the state.

And if Democrats would do that in 50 states, you are talking about a $25 billion stimulus package.  Not every state can do a half billion in public works projects, but we can certainly average that.  New Jersey has only three percent of the country’s population, so it’s realistic that the state average would be what we could easily do without touching state or federal dollars.

Is $25 billion enough?  Nope.  But if the feds won’t act, then we can do it at home.  A few bucks a month out of each of our pockets should be worth employing tens of thousands more Americans.  

And, not for nothing, doing some serious good for our infrastructure.

Comments (2)

  1. Bill Orr

    With over 1,000 local NJ public entities, just half of them following through could help our economy, set an example, and prove that stimulus at at any level can add jobs, improve infrastructure, and benefit us. The need is to convince the entities and their constituents of these benefits. It would probably not be as difficult as herding cats, but still would require effort. Christie does not mention nor even understand stimulus. It would be a lesson for him and conservatives to succeed with such a proposal. And the result would bring dividends to all of us.

  2. interested observer

    Only hope elected leaders are thinking along these lines and looking in the long term.


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