While Michigan is leading the way in research developments, it is falling far behind the pack when it comes to combating unemployment. That position seems unlikely to change after the state was snubbed in the latest round of stimulus funding distribution. Last week, the Obama administration announced plans to develop a high-speed rail across the country. Michigan will receive only $40 million of an $8 billion federal stimulus program to improve rail systems. And this allotment pales in comparison to the billions that Florida and California will receive. Though any amount helps, Michigan deserves a much bigger allotment of the stimulus money to help get on board a development project that would create jobs and revamp transportation in the state.
The $8 billion federal stimulus program to develop high-speed rail lines was announced by President Barack Obama last week. According to a report on Thursday by the Detroit Free Press, California received $2.34 billion from the stimulus fund, and Florida was allocated $1.25 billion. Michigan’s allotted portion of the program was $40 million. The state originally applied for $800 million in federal funds to build a high-speed rail line between Chicago, Detroit and Pontiac. The program was awarded $244 million, with $204 million going toward development in Indiana and Illinois and $40 million granted to Michigan. The amount of money received means that the state would build or renovate existing passenger stations in Battle Creek, Troy and Dearborn. The other $204 million awarded to Illinois and Indiana would be spent on the high-speed rail line to Chicago.
New or improved rail service is a positive improvement that could give the economy a much-need boost and help the environment. A most expansive system of high-speed trains would decrease the need for car travel and decrease carbon emissions. Trains will also greatly aid the mobility of those without access to cars, like low-income workers and students. And the increased travel that would stimulate the economy by making trips to metropolitan areas more viable.
But though this development is important for the country as a whole, the economically-ravaged state of Michigan won’t get the opportunity to cash in on the benefits of the construction. The full amount of federal funding that the state originally asked for to build the rail line between Detroit and Chicago would have created hundreds of jobs that Michigan desperately needs. It would have also opened a route to Detroit that could have increased tourism and business in the struggling city.
The federal government ignored Michigan’s need when it allocated significantly larger portions of the $8 billion fund to Indiana, Illinois, California and Florida. Though these states have also been high hard by the recession, Michigan’s needs haven’t been proportionally addressed. The federal government should have allocated more money to Michigan. With the highest unemployment rate in the country and more companies and residents leaving the state every day, Michigan needs all the federal assistance it can get.
Improved infrastructure should be located in places like Michigan, where there the largest number of individuals could benefit. In the future, government spending should be concentrated in areas like Michigan that need it the most.