Thursday, February 12, 2009

State and Local Officials Await Federal Stimulus Package

State and local officials are banking that the federal stimulus package coming out of Washington will help ailing budgets across Georgia. The state could get billions of dollars. Lawmakers say they are ready to see some hard numbers.

State Senator Jack Hill from Reidsville says Georgia could win big if two parts of the bill come through.

“The piece that I've watched more closely than the total package was the Medicaid reimbursement increase piece which will certainly help Georgia as we've had an increase in our Medicaid enrollment and the cash which may be as - I haven't seen the final figures - but could be $500 million in '09 and maybe $700 in '10."

Over in the House, the outlook is not as optimistic. Representative Fran Millar from Dunwoody questions whether some of the proposals are even going to stimulate Georgia’s economy.

“So the idea of the stimulus package is to create jobs and they said shovel ready projects... well I don't know how many projects are going to turn out of this conference report...We’ll see, I guess at the end of the day.”

Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley says that for local officials, the main question is who’s going to decide how the money is spent.

“We've been told that it will at least trickle down - whether it has to come through the state or not. But we've also been told we can directly lobby that money, and we’ll certainly talk with our congressman to see what needs that we can put in for, what we qualify for, what we can get.”

Democrats in Washington are trying to get more Republican support before putting the amended bill up for vote. As it stands now, most Georgians would see a $400 tax credit, while most couples in the state would get $800 in relief.

-By Carl Zornes

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