States lock in highway stimulus funds
Stimulus will flow to the 50 states after they all commit at least half their funding for highway construction before the June 29 deadline.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Every state has committed at least half its highway stimulus funds so none will lose any of its allocation, the Obama administration said Thursday.
States had until June 29 to obligate the funds or risk losing half the leftover money. Only a month ago, some 14 states had yet to satisfy that goal. Hawaii was the last to meet the mark, hitting it on June 19.
Maine has secured 100% of its funds and 15 states have more than 80% of their money committed.
"By delivering on these projects ahead of schedule and under-budget, we have been able to do even more than we expected," said Vice President Joe Biden.
The Federal Highway Administration has approved a total of $15.8 billion for more than 4,800 projects, as of June 25. States, however, have spent less than $190 million, as of June 19, according to federal data.
To commit the funds, states had to gain approval for their projects from the Federal Highway Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation. The money doesn't actually have to be spent, which can take months as projects go through the contracting and construction process.
Some states -- Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Arizona, Virginia and New Mexico -- have yet to claim any funds. Illinois has spent the most, claiming more than $47.6 million of the $664 million allocated so far.
Republicans in Congress said they were concerned by the slow pace of spending.
"This is pitiful that we can't get people working, we can't get the stimulus money out," said Rep. John Mica, (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "People want jobs and they want them now."
The administration did not report how many jobs have been created or saved thanks to the infrastructure funding. The issue has become a source of controversy, with Republicans on Capitol Hill questioning the the recovery act's effectiveness in stemming the unemployment tidal wave.
States are sharing $26.6 billion for highway infrastructure projects, though only $18.6 billion is subject to the June deadline. The road allocations are among the earliest of the $280 billion in funds going to states and municipalities as part of the $787 billion recovery act.
Including transit and airport construction, the federal Department of Transportation is making $48.1 billion available, of which $19 billion has already been committed to more than 5,300 projects, according to the administration. Currently, more than 1,900 projects are underway.