2011-01-20 / Local & State

Rendell Touts Success Of Federal Stimulus In Pa.

By Mark scolforo Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds pumped into Pennsylvania have lessened the impact of the recession on the state’s families and funded projects that will pay dividends for years to come, Gov. Ed Rendell said Thursday.

“The stimulus has worked,’’ Rendell said at a news conference he called on the topic. “It’s not popular to say that. It may not even have the ring of truth about it. But the stimulus has worked. It has worked to help Pennsylvania families weather the storm, and it’s worked to help to create and protect jobs.’’

He said the spending has been credited by the White House Council of Economic Advisers with creating or saving more than 136,000 jobs in the state, and that most of Pennsylvania’s $31 billion share has now been spent on a mixture of tax cuts, infrastructure improvements, extended unemployment benefits, job training and other programs.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as it is formally known, has helped resurface more than 940 miles of highways, repaired 6.5 million square feet of bridge decking, and funded 112 water projects at a cost of $220 million.

“Every day, nearly 3.4 million Pennsylvanians travel on roads and bridges that have been improved because of the stimulus,’’ Rendell said.

The state is currently repairing 1,600 bridges, a record number by far, he said.

The stimulus also helped extend access to high-speed Internet, boosted food stamp benefits and eventually will weatherize about 30,000 homes, he said.

The $31 billion total for Pennsylvania consists of $16.6 billion administered through state government, including the infrastructure spending; $11 billion in tax credits and benefits to people and businesses; and $3.4 billion in direct federal grants.

“These investments have changed the face of Pennsylvania, and not just changed (it) for a year or two, changed (it) for the long run,’’ Rendell said.

Rendell said Pennsylvania has weathered the recession with the strongest economy among the large industrial states, noting that its most recent unemployment figure was 8.6 percent and state revenues are running ahead of estimates for the fiscal year.

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