States prepare for cash influx from stimulus - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

States prepare for cash influx from stimulus

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Whether you supported it or not, President Obama's stimulus plan is signed and the money will soon be on the way.

Even one of the most outspoken opponents to the bill, Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby, says there are some positives to look forward to.

"It's not going to turn the economy around, but it's probably well spent money for bridges and infrastructure," said Shelby.

Those construction projects are all meant to create jobs, and the Obama White House is starting to give us specifics.

In Alabama, between Bobby Bright and Mike Rogers congressional districts, there could be more than 14,000 new jobs.

Over the river in Georgia, more that 15,000 jobs will be created in Sanford Bishop and Lynn Westmoreland's districts.

Westmoreland, though, is skeptical these jobs will even come.

"The only way your going to create jobs that last is to do something to help small business, and this plan doesn't have that," said Westmoreland.

The other part of the equation is relief to states.

Georgia faces about a $2.5 billion deficit, and the plan will not only help stabilize the budget, but also bring money to much needed programs.

Transportation is by far the largest chunk, with over $1 billion coming.

The effect will also be immediate, with the money being spent in the next 120 days.

Medicaid is another big winner, bringing in billions of dollars in the next three years, $530 million alone in 2009.

Of course, you can't forget education.

Millions will be pumped into school modernization and renovation, with money going to the neediest Title 1 schools and special education programs.

The news couldn't have come at a better time for state agencies cut to the core, standing on their last legs.

"I think when we find out all the allocations, I do think this will alleviate the budget cuts at the state level," said Georgia State Representative Calvin Smyre.

Representative Smyre couldn't give any specifics when it comes to the Valley area.

There will be some negotiating at the state level, and it will be up to Governor Purdue and the legislature to allocate the money to departments across the state.

It's then up to the departments to decide their top priorities and how much money will be given to each project.

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