Stimulus money remains elusive

Grand Junction officials have been plenty busy trying to nail down money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The city has sought $40 million from the $787 billion stimulus act that was approved early this year by Congress and freshly minted President Obama.

Of the $40 million it sought, the city has captured $1.9 million, a just-under 5 percent success rate, so far.  The city’s batting average still could improve with $30 million in applications pending.

Given the vast disparity between the amount of money available and the amount of money being sought by governments around the United States, Grand Junction’s success rate might very well be a good one.

It’s also undeniable that the stimulus package has had effects in the Grand Valley well beyond the applications by the city.

Gov. Bill Ritter has used stimulus money to shore up higher education, putting off for a year another serious fight over how much general-fund money should be devoted to the state’s colleges and universities.

The key phrase there, of course, is “put off.”

It’s not unfair to note that while the Colorado state government is constitutionally prohibited from going into debt, it is nonetheless relying heavily on debt to get it through — it’s just Uncle Sam’s debt.

Colorado will have to come to grips with its spending some day and some day soon. Papering over problems with federal money can’t last forever.

Which brings us back to Grand Junction.

The city wants $20 million for a railroad overpass and 29 Road intersection with the Interstate 70 Business Loop. $7.5 million for a new fire station downtown and $2 million to convert methane to compressed natural gas from the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant.

How exactly the awards are decided is a bit of a mystery, which adds yet another layer of uncertainty about the nation’s future and that of the Grand Valley.

We’re hopeful that much of that uncertainty can be resolved soon — and positively — for all of us.


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