Governors signal stimulus directions in cyberspace
With the president's signing into law the $787 billion economic stimulus plan earlier this week, the scramble has begun to figure out how it gets spent. A new official site, Recovery.gov, shows a time line of how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will unfold and an overview of the major components of spending, with price tags. An interactive map projects the number of jobs created or saved for each state.
Meanwhile the Democratic Policy Committee has posted online fact sheets for every state with dollar estimates, program by program, for highlights of the stimulus package, as proPublica reported. Others have mapped the states' take relative to their economic scale.
But can the eager stimulus watcher learn the exact way, say, Alabama will allocate its estimated $514 million on refurbishing highways and rails or how South Carolina will dispense its projected $28.7 million for dislocated workers? For answers to these questions, turn to the various states, where recovery websites are fast springing up.
In Michigan, where unemployment has soared to 10.6%, Governor Jennifer Granholm kicked off a new website this week: The Michigan Recovery & Reinvestment Plan. View the requests submitted for consideration, more than 16,000 thus far, such as a $100,000 proposal for a delinquency prevention in Clinton Township or a $287,500 bid to improve drinking water at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Or there's Scipio Township's request for $900,000 for immediate property tax relief, citing Hillsdale County's drain of jobs and residents' loss of homes and noting, "This can help 'everyone' hang on to their homes."
In a similar fashion, Virginia's governor, Tim Kaine, set up Stimulus.Virginia.gov on February 10 so citizens could register their ideas. Under Reports, find 58 web pages of requests so far, 50 projects to a page. One suggestion calls for, given the "obesity epidemic in children" and "congested roadways," a $1 million project in Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, and Richmond to pave sidewalks to extend a mile from schools so students can walk.
Earlier this month, Governor John Baldacci launched a Maine site devoted to the recovery, carrying updates about the stimulus plan's local implications, such as Friday's announcement of a $25-a-week boost to unemployment insurance.
In Mississippi, where unemployment has reached 8%, Governor Haley Barbour long ago set up a Recovery & Renewal website along with a three-year-old recovery office following Hurricane Katrina. But this renewal site carries no mention of the new stimulus funds. Apparently, Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, isn't keen on promoting the stimulus plan of the Democratic president.
In contrast, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a candidate for a cabinet post in the Obama administration, has supplied her Kansas Recovery site with descriptions of the state's expected share of stimulus funds -- for tax cuts, infrastructure, education, health care, and energy programs. Virtually each blurb comes with a link for a follow-up action. For example, the outline of the expected $350 million for highway reconstruction has links for registering to be a state vendor or placing a bid.