Gov. Ritter: 'It's alive!'

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Jobs are being created and saved, thanks in part to federal stimulus package funds that have bolstered Colorado’s sagging economy.

The Governor’s Economic Recovery Team released a report Tuesday showing that more than $1.2 billion in federal stimulus has been spent in Colorado, creating or retaining 5,291 full-time equivalent jobs.

Some 2,670 of those — more than half — are in the state’s higher education system.

By the program’s end, Colorado is expected to receive more than $5 billion in stimulus money in the forms of grants, contracts, loans and subsidies, according to GERT communications manager Myung Oak Kim.

Gov. Bill Ritter called the funds “a lifeline.”

“The Recovery Act has thrown a lifeline to Colorado when we most needed it, helping to keep thousands of teachers in the classroom at our public colleges and universities and preserving critical public safety services,” Ritter said in a news release. “Millions of Coloradans are benefiting from tax cuts and enhanced safety net services. And scores of businesses have won contracts that allow them to stay afloat and hire new employees.”

The information in Tuesday’s release was compiled by the governor’s office to assist the federal government in detailing how money doled out through the Recovery Act is affecting jobs and local economies. The information will be included in a more detailed report released today by the federal government.

“This information was not easy to get,” said Oak Kim. “This is purely pounding the pavement to get this representation.”

According to the GERT report:

• More than $1.2 billion has been spent in Colorado since the Recovery Act was passed

• More than 10,000 people in Colorado have been put to work or able to continue in their jobs because of the funding

• More than 500 homes have been weatherized to ensure better efficiency

• More than 100 Colorado companies have been awarded contracts worth $48 million

• 6,200 homeowners have taken advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.

Earlier this month, the GERT released detailed reports on Recovery Act Spending for each Colorado County and ZIP Code, available at www.recovery.gov.

Ritter said he is pleased by the results of the Recovery Act in Colorado thus far, but added that the state is just beginning to benefit from the federal legislation.

“This is just the beginning,” Ritter said. “Most of the billions of dollars in Recovery Act funds expected to flow into Colorado have yet to be spent, so job creation and benefits to communities and working families will continue to grow in coming months.”

However, not everyone is convinced that the stimulus funds will be all that helpful in the long run.

Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, a Joint Committee Member, said although it’s always good to see people in Colorado employed, the Recovery Act is creating one-time jobs with temporary funding.

“We’re borrowing money, creating national debt, to fund these jobs,” Lambert said. “What is going to happen when the money has been used? Are these the kind of jobs that we should be going after while creating debt? I don’t think so. I believe we should be working to help the economy create jobs that will be lasting and that aren’t funded through increased national debt.”

Jason@coloradostatesman.com