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Branch makes the case for stimulus spending

I don’t know if that’s what he intended, but it sure is what he did.

State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, said Thursday that Texas should consider seizing one advantage from hard times, which would be to let universities lock in contractors and borrowing costs at steep discounts.

“If there’s a real need for a building going forward, this is a good time to build,” Branch, who heads the House Higher Education Committee, said at an Austin forum sponsored by the online news outlet Texas Tribune.

Branch acknowledged that financial aid and academic funding are “on the table” for cuts next session because of the state’s huge budget deficit.


Branch said there’s no guarantee the Senate would go along.

Still, he said some of America’s most popular infrastructure projects – dams, bridges, parkways – were built during the Great Depression. Lean times present opportunities, he said.

“Interest rates are historically low and construction costs are down 20 [percent] to 30 percent,” he said. Campuses could spend a year on planning, Branch said, and the state could issue bonds in 2013, so costs over the next two years would be “almost nothing.”

This is basically the argument that many progressives have been making about infrastructure spending, and how this is absolutely the right time to be doing it. It would be a huge boost for the economy and for the employment rate, given that construction has suffered the most in this downturn, it would be an excellent long-term investment, and it would be taking advantage of historically low costs and interest rates. What’s not to love? I wish Rep. Branch lots of luck in convincing other members of his party of the wisdom of this idea.

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