USA Today reports that "States aren't using stimulus funds as intended":
The stimulus law requires states to give priority to transportation projects in economically distressed areas. But because states needed to choose projects quickly, many either didn't consider distressed areas until late in the planning process or used their own criteria rather than the federal requirements, the GAO found.
For example, 21 Illinois counties identified as economically distressed "would not have been so classified following the act's criteria," the report says.
Nearly half of the $15.9 billion worth of transportation projects underway nationwide are for resurfacing or other pavement improvements, and an additional 17% are for widening existing roads, the report says. That's because paving projects can start quickly and don't usually require time-consuming environmental studies, the report says.
No sweat! They'll get it right the second time! Says Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on the desperate need for a second stimulus now that about 10 percent to 15 percent of the original has been spent:
"I think that it is probably needed. We're going to need to have some further discussion. It will probably take place towards the end of the year and we want to take a look at the economic conditions at the time. But it certainly should be on the table at this point."