State: Federal Stimulus Plan has saved, created more than 10,000 jobs, but still a long way to go

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - State officials are say the impact the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is having on Colorado is "encouraging."

Tuesday afternoon, new data was released about the federal stimulus dollars being spent in the state and how many jobs they are creating or saving.

The Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability Office says it is expecting the state to receive at least $5.7 billion in stimulus money. But in the eight months since the plan was signed into law, only $1.2 billion -- about 20 percent of that total amount -- has actually been spent.

"There is a promise and a commitment towards transparency about the spending and so we're trying to meet the spirit of that," says Myung Oak Kim, communications manager for the Governor's Economic Recovery Team.

Tuesday, the Governor's Economic Recovery Team released a 48 page report, detailing what the federal stimulus plan has done for Colorado so far.

"Without a doubt it has been an incredible lifeline for Colorado," says Kim. "We would be in a much worse place without it."

According to the report, the majority of the $1.2 billion already spent in Colorado have gone to tax cuts and social security, health care, unemployment benefits and job training, and transportation projects. The result -- the equivalent of 5,291 new jobs. Officials say that number comes from federally mandated reporting by organizations that receive the money. However, that number only reflects jobs created by state grants or federal contracts.

The state says overall, it's been able to pinpoint 10,322 jobs that have either been saved or created by the stimulus plan -- but those figures do include temporary and part time jobs.

"Neither number represents the full job impact the Recovery Act dollars have had in Colorado because that number we can't pinpoint at this time," says Kim.

Senator Michael Bennet, (D) Colorado, who supported the stimulus plan estimates it will create or save 60,000 jobs in Colorado. While that number is a far cry from the 10,000 the state is currently reporting, officials say the Recovery Act is meant to be a two year plan that moves in phases during that time. They say a vast majority of grants and contracts will not be awarded until late this year, early next year.

"We are glad to see that thousands of jobs have been created and we expect that number to rise significantly in the coming months," says Kim.

According to the report, Mesa County has received a little more than $40 million in stimulus funds. Local leaders says while that has by no means hurt the Grand Valley, it's potential future money that will really give us a boost.

"On most of the stimulus dollars to date, the jury is still out," says Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca. "What we do have is a considerable number of grant applications pending."

One such application the county says it's banking on is a $20 million grant to make improvements to 29 Road.

"I would have taken a different approach to shore up the local economy, but given that this is what we have to work with, we're gonna make the best effort on behalf of the citizens of Mesa County," says Acquafresca.

To read the full report, click on the link below.


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