Gov Patrick’s “wacky” comment explains a lot

Every once in a while some pol lets slip an apparent throw-away line that on further consideration turns out to say a whole lot.

Read this (from the State House News, via the Boston Herald):

Gov. Deval Patrick is urging federal officials to change a “wacky rule” he says could cost Massachusetts $15 million in transportation funding, and last week he took his case to the nation’s top transportation official.

Patrick told the News Service that he met last Thursday with the Obama administration’s transportation chief, Secretary Ray LaHood, and urged him to support a change in the rules governing the spending of federal stimulus dollars on transportation projects.

Those rules require states to return unspent funds to the federal treasury if construction projects come in under budget, rather than allowing states to retain those funds and spend them on other projects.

Apparently during the mad rush a couple of years ago to turn on the federal spending fire hose and saturate the country with “stimulus,” some blessed, subversive soul managed to sneak into the enabling legislation just a tiny bit of discipline-inducing common sense.  A simple provision requiring that when a project deemed (after some sort of evaluation) worthy of “stimulus” funds manages to come in under budget, the overage goes back into the till.

“Wacky!” proclaims our affronted Governor.


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