What Obama's Stimulus Plan Could Mean for Oklahoma City

Wednesday, January 21st 2009, 3:58 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jump-starting the economy is priority one for the new President, and his first day in office he met with his economic team to push ahead with his massive stimulus plan.

The details of the plan are still being worked out, but there are great expectations in Oklahoma that it will pump some money into the economy.

President Obama said he wants this stimulus plan to save or create three million jobs through a combination of tax cuts and spending, some of that spending on capital improvement projects across the country which is why the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the state's largest cities have all put together lists of capital projects that are ready to go.

Oklahoma City's list contains more than 100 projects.

"Our understanding was that we needed to identify projects that we could get under construction, under contract within 120 to 180 days, so..." Oklahoma City Assistant City Manager Cathy O'Connor said.

So the city has picked out about $500 million in projects that were already in the pipeline dozens of road and bridge repair projects, drainage and sewer projects, traffic light improvements, but also things like construction of a new Bricktown fire station to go with the new police station there and new CNG fueling stations across the city.

"So, it's kind of a broad spectrum of things, but its capital investment in the community," O'Connor said.

Meanwhile, ODOT has its own list of ready-to-go projects, also more than 100 valued at more than a billion dollars, although right now it looks like the amount of money coming from Washington won't be anywhere near that.

"We're always going to be optimistic, hopefully we can get all of it or get as close, but the idea was not to have any money hanging there that we wouldn't be ready for," Terri Angier with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said.

Oklahoma City officials also realize they may only get a small portion of what they're requesting, but say, even so, it could help stimulate the economy.

"I think it could create jobs, I think it could help us fund projects out in the community that there is a need for to help people that are struggling in these kind of difficult economic times," O'Connor said.

Oklahoma Congresswoman Mary Fallin is on the committee that's reviewing and revising the stimulus measure; they're expected to hold a hearing on it Thursday. Fallin hasn't committed to voting for or against it; she is concerned, she says, about the bill's large price tag.

The price tag on the stimulus package right now is $825 billion. Close to two thirds of that would go toward new spending and the rest would pay for the tax cut Obama promised during the campaign.