The Economy Today: Running on Wind

News from Sacramento, Baton Rouge, Medicine Bow, and elsewhere

National economic headlines include word from The New York Times that Mexican immigration to the States has declined sharply, which researchers say is because of the lack of jobs in the American economy. And there are signs at the border: “Only two beds are filled in a shelter here that houses migrants hoping to sneak into the United States. On the American side, near Calexico, Calif., Border Patrol vans return empty to their base after agents comb the desert for illegal crossers.” USA Today, meanwhile, reports that the U.S. government is having difficulty selling the 50,000 foreclosed houses it owns—“enough homes to fill a city the size of Riverside, Calif., or Miami”—and is facing billions of dollars in losses.

Yesterday in California, meanwhile, Gov. Schwarzenegger laid out two emergency plans to address the state’s deepening budget crisis. The actions include, the Los Angeles Times reports, “slicing up to seven days off the public school year, releasing thousands of inmates from prison and packing others into county jails, cutting off healthcare to more than 200,000 children and drilling for oil off the Santa Barbara coast.”

The Arizona Republic reports that, without “a flood of stimulus money,” the city of Mesa’s spending will be down almost $153 million for fiscal year 2009-2010—a drop of almost 13 percent. But even with stimulus funds—it has been promised $46.3 million for various projects—the city’s spending will drop by 9 percent.

In Louisiana, the House has approved a state budget that would result in significant cuts in spending for higher education (it would slash about 15 percent of state funding for colleges). Higher education officials are counting on the state Senate to offer a stronger defense against the cuts.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram takes a look at the last two and a half weeks of the Texas state legislative session, and the bills that remain on the table—and are likely to die. Among those still breathing is a bill that would override Gov. Perry’s rejection of $500 million in federal stimulus money for unemployment benefits.

Portland, Maine, residents may now go to, a new Web site that will keep track of where federal economic stimulus funds are going in the city. The Portland Press Herald writes that the site, which went live today, summarizes about twenty different grants and programs for which the city has received or applied for funding, and in some cases details how many jobs will be created with the funds. It includes information for contractors interested in bidding on projects.

The Detroit Free Press reports on Obama’s support for funding to support Great Lakes restoration—$475 million that would go towards beach cleanup, wetlands restoration, and removal of toxic sediment from river bottoms. Even if the budget gets trimmed, lakes advocates are confident of a significant investment in the initiative. Freep cites a recent study by the Brookings Institution, which said that “every dollar spent on restoring the lakes would bring a $2 economic return.”

According to the AP, the town of Medicine Bow in Wyoming is seeking a $70,000 state grant to cover half the costs of installing 11 wind turbines around the community, and plans to match that with federal funds. Town clerk Karen Heath says, “We’d like to run the whole town on wind.”

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.