As the billions of dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act begin disseminating from Washington, many details remain unclear regarding exactly what benefits Dallas will derive from it.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert met with President Barack Obama in Washington Friday along with 85 other mayors from across the nation to receive a briefing on the bill and a spiel about their role in seeing it spent wisely.
“We've designed this bill to save and create -- save or create over 3 million new jobs. And we'd like to see it do even better than that. And that's where your efforts come in. You're the ones who know the areas that give us the greatest return on our investment … and the world is watching -- the world is watching to see how well this is going to work,” said Vice President Joe Biden in the opening remarks.
“Mayors and governors have to keep balanced budgets,” Obama added in his address, without seemingly a faint awareness of the irony.
Leppert has yet to identify where he sees best fit to channel the funds, but he has mentioned energy efficiency, law enforcement and school districts as possible recipients. He has stated that one of his primary goals is to identify which projects funding should go toward upon his return. The bill does promise to create over 269,000 jobs in Texas, many already allocated for North Texas, including 15,300 for Dallas. It will also disperse much-needed funds to many local school districts.
The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has brought the federal deficit close to $2 trillion. Obama will be hosting a “fiscal responsibility summit” on Feb. 23 with the goal of reining in government spending in the upcoming years and decades.
Holly LaFon is a Dallas journalist who has written and worked for various area publications including D magazine and Examiner.