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Slow Going on the Construction Front

Construction goes on in the rain on the northbound side of I-295 in Richmond, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo)Here's today's stimulus coverage roundup:

See our investigation with CBS Evening News on little-used airports that have won big stimulus grants (video).

One of the largest U.S. building materials suppliers warns that 2009 earnings will fall below market potential, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Journal puts this prediction in context, writing that "three-quarters of federal (construction/transportation) work isn't expected to start until next year, later than expected, a move that compounds a slower recovery in the broader U.S. economy and budget problems affecting state contract awards, as well as poor weather in the first half of the year."  Last week, I linked to "An Ill-Timed and Ill-Targeted Stimulus," a New York Times post by an economics professor at the University of Chicago. The economist, Casey B. Mulligan, argued that the workers and other resources abandoned in the private housing bust "are ill-suited for public sector work."

USA Today's "Stimulus Spending Finally Starts to Trickle Down" is a thorough and forward-looking piece on the emerging stimulus debate. If you're looking for the big picture, check it out. The New York Times' Economix blog debates the pros and cons of a second stimulus. It's a good way to get up to date.

"Amtrak managers have improperly interfered with oversight of the railroad's $1.3 billion in economic stimulus funding, according to an independent report by a former federal prosecutor," reports USA Today. An Amtrak spokesman "strongly disagrees" with the accusations.

Today, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter will order that stimulus-related jobs must be posted to www.connectingcolorado.com. The same Web site will address people's complaints about how stimulus money has been spent and monitored.  This announcement comes one day after New York Gov. David Paterson announced he'll create an independent panel of four responsible for monitoring the stimulus, and it will report directly to him.  New Hampshire will use $2 million to create the Office of Economic Stimulus and "to cover the cost of auditors at smaller agencies throughout state government," reports the Union Leader in Manchester. How much will it cost, we'd like to know, to oversee a $787 billion spending initiative?

New England unites. No, not against the British. New England's states will compete against the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative for $8 billion in stimulus money for high-speed rail, the Associated Press reports. Governors in New England are proposing a patchwork of new routes and improvements to existing rail services. California plans to build 800 miles of track, while the Midwest initiative would upgrade routes in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio. (Thanks to Bill Peberdy, a member of ProPublica's Reporting Network, for passing along the New England news.)

Yesterday, the White House released its most recent economic forecast. "White House Projects Gains in Health, 'Green' Jobs," reads the Washington Post headline.  While the jobs forecast doesn't mention the stimulus, it essentially echoes it. The stimulus is expected to create a lot of health care and 'green' manufacturing jobs.

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