Stimulus Project (ARRA) Benefits in Tyler,TX
Updated on August 7, 2015
The Stimulus Project is the nickname for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Smith County has received almost $161 million; this was updated in February 2012. The county seat is Tyler–a city of roughly 100,000 in East Texas.
Stimulus Projects by Other Names in US History
Here’s a fair question. Are stimulus projects something new to the Obama Administration? Not at all. In fact, four of the five most successful stimulus projects were done by Republican administrations–including two by Calvin Coolidge. http://everythingishistory.com/5-government-stimulus-projects-that-fill-you (1) Hoover Dam (1928–1936) First attempted unsuccessfully by private companies, it was taken over by the government. When the Hoover Dam was completed, it was the “largest hydroelectric power plant in the world.” (2) Blue Ridge Parkway–It’s now the most visited site in the National Park System. This Appalachian park is the only one of these five to be part of the New Deal. (3) Panama Canal. Also first attempted unsuccessfully by private companies before the federal government took over. (4) Mount Rushmore (5) Interstate Highway System. This project by Dwight Eisenhower cost $114 billion, but it’s certainly well-loved.
Recently, we have heard on CNN about two green energy companies going broke despite stimulus money in California (solar panels) and Indiana (electric cars), so let’s look at success stories here in Tyler. The effect of global competition varies on industries.
Education Stimulus Grants from the Obama Administration.
Education is really a multi-headed hydra as there are six different types of grants that Texas institutions were awarded: http://projects.propublica.org/recovery/locale/texas/smith (1) Pell Grants, (2) State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), (3)Special Education Grants to States, (4) Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies (LEA) to help schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families, (5) School Improvement grants,and (6) Federal Work Study.
There are five departments that receive the awards: (1) DOED Student Financial Assistance Programs, (2) Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, (3) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and the (4) Department of Education. Surprisingly, Tyler Junior College received some of its money through the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education even though it’s obviously a post-secondary education.
Here’s a really unexpected winner of billions of dollars in stimulus money for education: (5) the Governor’s Office for the State of Texas! That colossal $3 billion dollar figure was divided among plenty of public school districts, charter schools, and other institutions. “CDFA Program Title–State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) – Education State Grants, Recovery Act. Purpose: The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) – Education Fund provides resources to local education agencies (LEAs) to stabilize local budgets in order to minimize and avoid reductions in education and other essential services.” In this category alone, Tyler ISD won two grants that were over $5 million dollars. There are 46 pages of money winners in this program; another 38 pages are termed sub-vendors.
Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies, Recovery Act: “Part A ARRA provides supplemental resources to local education agencies (LEAs) to help schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families to provide high-quality education.” Tyler ISD received $3,278,923.00.
Unfortunately, Texas does not participate in Race to the Top; its purpose is “to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for educational innovation and reform, achieving significant improvement in student outcomes and implementing ambitious plans in the core education fields.” The SFSF (State Fiscal Stabilization Fund) administers that program. If you go to the education section listed above, scroll down about half-way and you’ll see a description of the grant received by New York.
Several articles have appeared in the Tyler Paper about the stimulus money going to work in the Tyler area. “Millions of Stimulus Dollars at Work in East Texas,” http://www.kltv.com/story/13419552/stimulus-money-at-work-in-east-texas mentions a variety of areas where stimulus money has gone, such as renovating an 18-year old runway at the airport! Tyler ISD received $8 million for computer technology, such as iPods and other technology.
Transportation, Veterans, & Defense Stimulus Grants from the Obama Administration
Aside from education,the federal assistance has been felt mainly in five areas: (1) Loop 49 construction, (2) Texas State Veterans Home, (3) Armed Forces Reserve Center, (4) Tyler Transit, and (5) Downtown signal lights “Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.” Six departments received between $1 and $4.8 million. A wide range of other projects have received funding too.
(1) The Loop 49 is south of Tyler, and it has been a goal for 30 years. It’s the first part of the East Texas hourglass. Before the stimulus in 2003, eight miles were built from 155 South to 69 South and completed in 2006. Then two miles were constructed from 69 to Paluxy (FM 756) by January 2008. By the way, Highway 69 becomes Broadway, the major north-south street in Tyler. The Texas Transportation Commission approved the stimulus money in 2009 and further construction began in August 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_State_Highway_Loop_49
(2) The Home for Heroes is a facility for senior citizen veterans that was built near the UT-Heath Science Center. Kay Bailey Hutchinson found money for the project through the stimulus, according to Jerry Patterson–Texas Veterans Land Board Commissioner http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20100520/NEWS08/5200329 Besides the obvious construction laborers, the Home for Heroes project created “Architectural and Engineering positions. Vendor jobs created were for Project Architect and Production Draftsman positions in preparation of Schematic Design and Design Development Drawings and Specifications,” according to http://stimuluswatch.org/2.0/performance_places/city/TX/75708/tyler
(3) The Armed Forces Reserve Center has twelve classrooms, a distance learning computer lab, large dining hall, gym, and weapons center. It’s closed to the general public but limited tours are available. http://southwesttyler.kltv.com/news/news/69898-new-armed-forces-reserve-center-opens-tyler This center will help in case of a disaster.
(4) The Tyler Transit moved the central transfer point closer to downtown in Summer 2010 so it’s next to the depot and train museum. The antique brick sidewalks and streets needed to be made accessible. Fencing for increased security and drainage issues were corrected. Furthermore, the Transit bought five new buses. This info is also from ProPublica. A sign still proudly proclaims the project as part of the ARRA–the offical acronym for what has been nicknamed, “the stimulus project,” together with its subcategory: DOT, Department of Transportation.
(5) The downtown signal light project involved replacing signals at fourteen intersections from the 1960’s. The old lights weren’t energy efficient.
A Few Health Related Grants
Here are four health-related grants of personal interest to me:
(1) One was won by UT Health Science Center: $70,500 to study hypersecretive mucus in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which leads to dehydration of the airways.
(2) The brochure for East Texas Council for Independent Living (ETCIL) was “…developed under grants from the US Dept. of Education/Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) $277,648 and the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds of $54,950 (2010-11); however, the contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Dept. of ED/RSA and should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.” Now isn’t that an interesting disclaimer? Apparently the federal government let this local organization that helps East Texans with disabilities do what they wanted in a flier–true bottom up grantsmanship–hardly the stereotype of micromanagement by Big Brother.
(3) A 2009 grant for ETCIL is described as “a discretionary grant program that funds centers for independent living as part of a statewide network of centers that are consumer controlled, community based, cross disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agencies.” Independent Living chapters can be found throughout the US, in addition to our 13-county area.
(4) I’ve recently graduated from being merely disabled to having Medicare A&B, Medicare D, and now Medicaid. Getting overdue foot surgery for a bunion and a big toe at a 45 degree angle left the “back burner” after two years. So you can imagine when I found out that a Tyler podiatrist got stimulus money through the SBA (Small Business Administration), I had to email the link to my podiatrist–a new favorite acquaintance. The lucky podiatrist with the stimulus grant is Foot Specialist of Tyler PA, and it was through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
The stimulus project has lived up to the goal of helping a wide range of activities–primarily education, transportation and veterans/defense in Tyler. However, admitting the stimulus project even exists in East Texas is something only some journalists will discover, for it could be dangerous for many to admit in a city that hasn’t voted for a Democrat presidential candidate since Harry Truman. (See Wikipedia). As we near another presidential election, it’s important to explain and defend the success of the Stimulus Project. In my case, I’m utilizing my hometown’s county as a case study and urge others to do the same.