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Galesburg Register-Mail: New Stimulus Could Net City $1M

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City officials are preparing for a second stimulus that could provide a $1 million infrastructure boost to Galesburg.

The proposed $75 billion Jobs for Main Street Act, which has been approved by the House, but must still pass the Senate, would include $28 billion in infrastructure spending.

City Manager Dane Bragg said that if the bill is passed the city could use the money to resurface part of Fremont Street. The project, which would likely run from Farnham to Seminary, has already gone through the design phase, meaning work could begin quickly if the city is awarded funding. Aldermen would also have to approve the work.

Bragg said that projects awarded funding under the Jobs for Main Street Act would have to begin in 90 days, according to what the city has been told by transport officials. The government hopes that awarding funding to so-called shovel-ready projects will help to stimulate the economy by creating jobs quickly. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package approved in 2009, funded projects that could begin in 120 days.

The city of Galesburg was awarded roughly $1 million through ARRA, which it spent on road improvement projects, and Bragg said he expects the city would receive about the same if the Jobs for Main Street Act is passed, based on communication with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bragg said the city had designed the Farnham Street project in the hope that funding would become available in the future, a move that could pay off if the Senate approves the new stimulus plan.

Knox County could also receive funding through the Jobs for Main Street Act, as could area school districts and police departments.

Apart from infrastructure funding, the bill would include other measures designed to save and create jobs including $23 billion for an education jobs fund and over $1 billion to support hiring 5,500 police officers.

The Senate is expected to vote on the House-approved bill this month, but it's not certain senators will approve the bill. There has been plenty of criticism of the first stimulus package, with Republicans arguing that it cost taxpayers too much and has done little to bring unemployment numbers down.

Congressman Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, is a supporter of the Jobs for Main Street Act. "I am pleased that the House has passed a package that will help put the American people back to work," Hare said in December. "I thank the Democratic leadership for including many of my ideas in the Jobs for Main Street Act. I believe this is an important first step, but we must continue to find ways to create jobs in the days, weeks and months ahead."

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