Politics & Government

States move quickly to put highway stimulus funds to work

WASHINGTON — Every state and five U.S. territories have declared ahead of a June 29 deadline how they'll spend at least half the highway funds set aside for them in the $787 billion economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will announce that benchmark later Thursday at a meeting of the Recovery Act Cabinet, administration aides said. They see the benchmark as evidence the stimulus is putting more people back to work ahead of schedule.

However, the positive signs come as even Obama says he isn't satisfied so far with the impact of the stimulus on the battered economy. Obama said this week he expects unemployment to exceed 10 percent.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, states had until Monday to assign at least 50 percent of the highway funds they'll receive to specific projects.

Administration data provided to McClatchy in advance of the Cabinet meeting shows all states and territories met the deadline at least 10 days early. Hawaii was the final state, with $46.2 million designated as of June 19. Cash-strapped California met its deadline on May 1, and had $1.2 billion in highway spending locked down. Maine met its requirement in early March.

So far, administration officials said, $19 billion is locked down for more than 5,300 approved transportation projects, about a third of which are under way.

State, amount and date met

Alaska: $68.8 million; June 12

California: $1.2 billion; May 1

Florida: $877.6 million; May 6

Georgia: $377.5 million; June 17

Illinois: $598 million; March 10

Kansas: $209.9 million; April 22

Kentucky: $165.3 million; May 21

Mississippi: $214.8 million; April 23

Missouri: $320.6 million; May 20

North Carolina: $314.3 million; May 8

Pennsylvania: $447.7 million; May 20

South Carolina: $168.9; April 2

Texas: $960.7 million; June 12

Washington: $250.7 million; April 27

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