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Minnesota Public-Sector Jobs Benefit Most From Stimulus

Dave Umhoefer and Patrick Marley | The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via YellowBrix

October 14, 2009

Madison — The first solid – if still incomplete – employment numbers for federal stimulus spending by Wisconsin state government show that retaining government positions was job one.

Three-fourths of 8,284 stimulus-related jobs accounted for so far were public-sector posts protected by the federal infusion into state and local government coffers, Gov. Jim Doyle’s office reported.

That included teachers, police officers and other government workers.

Of the remaining one-fourth, it’s not clear how many are private-sector jobs, and whether the jobs were retained or newly created.

Predictably, the report touched off partisan disagreement, with Democrats calling the figures a good start and Republicans questioning the success of the hotly debated federal package approved in February, especially in light of recent record job losses.

The state-released numbers, meeting a federal reporting deadline, are just a slice of the stimulus picture in Wisconsin. They do not include money funneled directly to local municipalities or to the University of Wisconsin system; those reports are being made separately. The spending so far represents just over one-third of the $1.92 billion awarded to the state.

The Doyle administration said that $680 million of the state-controlled funds has been spent so far – nearly all of the $701 million received. Another $1.2 billion has been awarded but has not yet landed in Wisconsin, Doyle’s office said. Eventually, and more broadly, an estimated $7.7 billion will go to Wisconsin individuals, governments, nonprofit agencies and private firms under the stimulus plan.

The $1.92 billion state-controlled chunk eventually should directly save or create some 25,000 jobs over the next couple of years, said Chris Patton, director of Wisconsin’s Office of Recovery and Reinvestment.

“This is money well-spent,” Patton told reporters at the Capitol. The rough per-job cost of $82,000 is below original federal estimates, he said.

The stimulus package was designed to spread spending mainly over two years. Many of the funds dedicated for road construction won’t be spent until 2010.

Earlier Tuesday, state government’s top economist told an Assembly committee that the effect of the federal stimulus package “is only really beginning to be felt.” John Koskinen of the state Department of Revenue noted that much of the money will not be spent until 2010 or later.

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