Projects in four Oklahoma cities are included on a list provided to Congress this week by a national mayors’ group. The mayors said the solution for jump-starting the economy is for Congress to provide federal money for ready-to-go projects that would improve public buildings, roads, streets, bridges, water systems and public transit. The Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors presented Congress a list of local projects and lobbied for prompt funding as part of a widespread economic stimulus package. The list isn’t final, and the conference still is compiling information. Oklahoma cities that listed projects are Tulsa, Norman, Ponca City and Moore.
Oklahoma City waitsOklahoma City has not listed projects yet. Instead, Oklahoma City is working with the state Transportation Department, Mayor Mick Cornett said Wednesday. He said he hasn’t made a decision of whether Oklahoma City will join the U.S. Conference of Mayors list. "As far as I know, that’s the method we’re using to get the message to Washington,” he said. "We do have projects through ODOT that are raring to go. A lot of it is like resurfacing on I-40 inside the city limits. That’s obviously a project that could start quickly.” The U.S. Conference of Mayors submitted a list of requests from 427 cities seeking funding for 11,391 projects, potentially creating about 847,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010. The projects listed so far represent an "infrastructure investment” of about $73 billion. Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor is in the leadership of the national group, which worked since summer with both presidential candidates on "ready-to-go” projects. Taylor said the Tulsa list has a price tag of about $725 million and would create thousands of jobs. Projects included public safety, the transit system, infrastructure and economic development.
Why invest in cities?The U.S. Conference of Mayors report contends metro economies drive the national economy, accounting for 86 percent of the national employment, 90 percent of labor income and 90 percent of gross domestic product. With funding, the mayors say, the projects could be started and possibly finished in just two calendar years if federal funding becomes available. Sen. Daniel Inouye, incoming chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, said he’s studied the mayors’ requests, but doesn’t know how much money they will receive. Inouye, a Democrat from Hawaii, said he’s looking for projects that are ready to go. A stimulus is a financial shot-in-the-arm and has to be effective immediately, not years from now, Inouye said. President-elect Barack Obama has said he’s going to focus on infrastructure programs to get people working again, encouraging the mayors, who had to make their case knowing they face competition for congressional attention.