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Rell Wants List of ’Shovel Ready’ Jobs

Fri December 05, 2008 - Northeast Edition

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. M. Jodi Rell has asked state agencies to come up with a list of projects that are ready to be built if the state receives federal stimulus funding.

Rell directed the departments of Public Works, Transportation and Economic and Community Development to prioritize any “shovel ready’’ projects. They may include road, bridge, rail, and public buildings projects, and economic development and housing initiatives in the final design stages.

“I want them ready to go, so if the money comes through then we’re ready to put the shovel in the ground,’’ Rell said Nov. 28.

Many economists think that aid to state and local governments should be tops on the agenda for any new stimulus spending, as they have less borrowing authority than the federal government during an economic downturn. That means states are slashing budgets as the slowdown causes tax revenues fall.

Connecticut’s current fiscal year budget, which ends June 30, 2009, is at least $250 million in deficit, despite efforts to cut spending. The next two fiscal years are estimated to be $6 billion in the red.

Meanwhile, the state lost 3,600 jobs from September to October, driven partly by a large drop in education and health services positions.

Employment in Connecticut was just under 1.7 million and the unemployment rate of 6.5 percent was up from September’s rate of 6.1 percent. Connecticut’s rate now matches the national unemployment figure.

“States simply do not have the funds to match the federal dollars at this time,’’ Rell said.

Rell said such projects are vital to the region.

“Northeast states have some of the oldest transportation infrastructure in the country and have to contend with the eroding effects of snow and cold weather on our roads and bridges,’’ she said. “The jobs these investments will create will help us rebuild both our highway and rail systems and our economy.’’

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