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Stimulus Money a "Lifeline" for Colorado

Stimulus Money a "Lifeline" for Colorado

Burt Hubbard | The Denver Post via YellowBrix

October 28, 2009

The stimulus money flowing through state agencies has saved or created almost 4,500 jobs in Colorado so far, most of them in colleges and prisons.

An analysis released Tuesday by Gov. Bill Ritter’s economic recovery team also found that about 6,200 homebuyers have taken advantage of the one-time $8,000 federal tax credit for buying their first home. It also found that more than 50,000 college students have benefited from the boost in Pell Grant funds.

“This money has been a significant lifeline for Colorado,” said Myung Oak Kim, spokeswoman for the State Economic Recovery Accountability Board.

But a Republican lawmaker said the stimulus is not giving any real help to the state’s private industries, such as mining and sales.

“It’s propping up state government at the expense of the private sector,” said Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, and a member of the Joint Budget Committee. “Look what is happening to mining, sales and other Colorado industries. They are dropping like a rock.”

The report is the latest in a series detailing how stimulus money is being spent in the state. Earlier this month, the federal government released information on jobs resulting from federal contracts, most of which went to private businesses. It showed that the contracts led to 4,695 jobs created or saved. After further analysis, the state has now downgraded that to about 830 full-time jobs created or saved.

Tuesday’s report looked at the impact of federal funds flowing through state agencies in the form of grants and loans, rather than contracts. The biggest impacts were on state jobs, but it also included grants given the state to fund areas such as youths’ summer jobs, highway work and weatherization improvements.

A more comprehensive federal report on stimulus grants and loans that went through all recipients in Colorado, including local governments, will be released later this week.

Tuesday’s report found that higher education has been the biggest beneficiary. There, 2,675 jobs were saved that would have been lost to budget cuts, according to the analysis. Part of the stabilization portion of the stimulus money was used to backfill the state’s contribution to higher education.

The stabilization portion also was used by the state to save another 524 Department of Corrections jobs.

About 500 jobs were created through state highway projects. Home weatherization created the equivalent of 121 full-time jobs.

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