On Monday, the Missouri House approved where more than $300 million in federal stimulus money was to be spent throughout the state. The debate in the House focused on whether it was spending the money effectively, or merely spending on a bunch of "pork barrel projects."
Columbia will see portions of the money going to Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and renovations for MU hospitals. Other spending included a statewide communications upgrade for law enforcement and money to St. Louis for an expansion of its transit system.
All three of Columbia's state representatives voted for the bill as it passed 117-42. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said it was the representatives from Columbia and Mexico, Mo., who worked together to convince skeptics that it wasn't all pork.
Despite that, Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Jackson County, said the bill was fiscally irresponsible. He preferred to take the money and apply it to projects set for 2012. That would contradict what the Congressional Budget Office outlines as the purpose for a stimulus bill: "Fiscal stimulus aims to boost economic activity during periods of economic weakness by increasing short-term aggregate demand."
Representatives from Kansas City were angry that little of the money allocated was headed to the city.
"There is nothing in this bill for Kansas City," Holsman said. "Almost 10 percent of the entire population of the state, and we got nothing." Kelly called that "a valid criticism" and stated there was still chance for it to change as it heads to the Missouri Senate.
Do you think the General Assembly is allocating the stimulus money effectively? Are you happy with what Columbia looks to receive from the package?