Thursday, December 12, 2013
Maine got $58,000 in unspent money as part of an effort by the Obama Administration to turn back to states a total of $473 million in infrastructure funds that had been tied up in political red tape.
From 2003 to 2006, Congress set aside unspent funds earmarked for 671 transportation projects nationwide would be returned to 49 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Only Wyoming had no unspent earmarks.
The $58,000 being returned to Maine had been earmarked for a transportation project called “Gateways for Maine’s National Scenic Byways.” Other states had multiple projects in limbo and received greater amounts of money. Alabama had the most at 33 projects worth $51.5 million.
“We’re releasing these funds so Maine can get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work,” said U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“These idle earmarks have sat on the shelf as our infrastructure continued to age and construction workers stood on the sideline,” LaHood said. “I’m taking that unspent money and giving it right back to the states so they can put it to work on the infrastructure projects that they need most -- projects that will put people to work.”
President Obama has said he would veto any bill that comes to his desk with earmarks and would support legislation to permanently ban earmarks.
All states must identify the projects they plan to use the funds for by October 1, and must obligate them by December 31, 2012. Funds not obligated by the December 31 deadline will be proportionally redistributed in FY 2013 to states that met the deadline.