NORTHWEST ARKANSAS — The Bella Vista bypass, the top transportation priority as chosen by the state Highway Commission, received $10 million in federal stimulus funds earlier this year.
A trail system that will run through six cities of Northwest Arkansas recently received a $15 million federal grant.
We thought the comparison was worth pointing out.
We love trails. Trails are great. Walking and bicycling are fine, healthy things. This trail priority may even prove correct in the long term. The way things are going, a lot of people in this region might as well walk or ride bikes. They have no job to commute to.
Cynical humor aside, at least the trails project got enough money to make important progress instead of a tiny fraction of the money that was requested. We don’t begrudge the trails project a dime of what was awarded.
We just want to point out how little highways and other major infrastructure projects - the things normally associated with a stimulus program - got in this bill. The joke is not that a needed, useful trail system got enough money. The joke is how little major economic, game-changing investments such as highways received.
We highly recommend that readers with access to the Internet go to recovery.arkansas.gov/, where the state tracks the $2.6 billion this state alone received from the stimulus package.
As of Thursday, little more than half of Arkansas stimulus funds has been spent. Restrictions and guidelines in the package has delayed some of the spending, but that’s not the whole story. Look at how much of the money - especially the portions remaining available in our state - is earmarked for continuing programs such as education, health and human services and “government stabilization.” That last category is a catch phrase meaning “spend it on things you’d have to live without if your budget was balanced.”
This wasn’t a stimulus package. It was a state government bailout. The chief reason Arkansas hasn’t spent as much of this money as other states is because our financial house was already in order - unlike the states that benefited most from this stimulus.
Meanwhile, needed projects went wanting.
We Endorse Jim House, Only Moreso
Let’s be clear: The editorial board of Northwest Arkansas Times and its sister publications endorses incumbent Jim House for District 89 in state House of Representatives. The board did not endorse House’s opponent, Charlie Collins.
You might not understand those distinctions if you read some of Collins’ direct mail campaign pieces or heard his radio commercials. The Collins campaign has chosen to lift a couple of sentences from our endorsement of House to make it appear otherwise.
It is a deceptive - though sadly common - practice, especially among cynical politicians who are only out for themselves.
The board mistakenly believed Collins to be an articulate, thoughtful candidate worthy of consideration and our editorial reflected that. But it also said House was the better choice.
Collins’ subsequent campaign tactics convinces us he’s simply another disingenuous, self-serving pol.
There are already too many of his kind in Washington D.C. We sure don’t need them in Little Rock too.
One of those offensive radio ads tells listeners to vote for their own values by supporting Collins. Well, if your values are cynical manipulation and political misdirection, Charlie Collins is your man. If not, vote for Jim House.