Colorado to Get At Least $1.97 Billion Under Stimulus Plan, State Leaders React

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on its way to the President's desk, Colorado is expected to get nearly $2 billion in stimulus funding. State Democrats are hailing the plan as the first step in fixing the economy, while state Republicans say it won't do much but burden future generations.

"This is a major milestone on our way to recovery," said President Barack Obama.

During his weekly address, President Obama praised Congress for passing he economic stimulus plan, saying he'll sign the bill quickly so the federal government can begin making the "necessary investments" to put America back on the right track. And according to a new report, they'll be investing big in Colorado.

A Senate Appropriations Committee estimates the state will receive at least $1.97 billion in stimulus funding. Colorado's Congressional Democrats, who all voted in favor of the plan, say they expect it to create or protect between 60,000 and 70,000 jobs across the state.

"The recovery package will allow us to continue driving Colorado's new energy economy forward," said Governor Bill Ritter, (D) Colorado, in a news release. "It also will support vital safety-net services in areas like Medicaid, unemployment benefits and job training for people and families suffering the most. It will provide important tax relief and it will make key investments in education right away."

But not all share the Governor's enthusiasm. Saturday morning, a group of Western Slope Republican leaders held a rally, asking the President to veto the plan.

"I saw [Friday], people at the federal level holding up the package and it was this deep in paperwork," said State Representative Steve King, (R) Grand Junction. "I know that the legislators have not read that legislation."

They criticized the plan as being too full of pet projects that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy, and say it will take more than check from the federal government to fix the state's problems.

"We have no guarantees," said Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland. "And whatever we have will be a drop in the bucket to what it'll cost our children and grandchildren."

"I don't want the federal government's money," said King. "I want us to balance our budget and I want us to start looking at a rainy day fund."

With an estimated $611 million going to shore up the state's budget and $404 million set aside for road projects, Democrats say they remain hopeful the plan will work -- but want to remind Americans it's just the first step in a long, tough road ahead.

"It will take time and it will take effort, but working together we will turn this crisis into opportunity and emerge from our painful present into a brighter future," said President Obama.

U.S. Representatives Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn -- the Colorado delegation's only Republicans -- voted against the plan.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, (D) Colorado, will be stopping in Grand Junction Monday to speak with local leaders about the stimulus plan and other efforts to create job. He is scheduled to speak at the Whitman Educational Center -- part of the Museum of Western Colorado -- at 5:30pm.

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