Stimulus funds 18,900 jobs in state, White House claims

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President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus package has steered about $848 million to Indiana so far and created or retained
nearly 18,900 jobs, the White House said Friday.

The figures were included in a new report issued by an independent
federal board monitoring the program’s progress. The new stimulus report follows the administration’s admission that earlier
counts of jobs credited to the stimulus were faulty. A review by the Associated Press found the government’s early report
overstated thousands of jobs saved or created.

Despite White House promises that errors would be corrected, the
latest stimulus job count still includes mistakes such as the ones discovered in the AP’s earlier sampling of contracts.

The report showed about 640,300 jobs have been created or retained nationally since the stimulus
package was passed in February. White House officials said when adding in jobs linked to $288 billion
in tax cuts, the stimulus plan has created or saved more than 1 million jobs.

Indiana as a whole has been
awarded about $3 billion so far, Friday’s report said. Much of it has yet to be spent.

Indiana officials said revised
figures show state government was awarded about $2.3 billion through Sept. 30, which was close to earlier figures. State government
has received and spent about $781 million so far.

A summary of the stimulus money state government received so
far showed it paid for the equivalent of 16,310 jobs.

About $610 mi11ion went for basic school funding in June
to help prop up the state budget that took effect July 1. That supported about 13,200 school jobs, according to the state
summary. About $82 million more went to specific education programs, providing more than 2,000 jobs.

The state
government data does not include money that went directly to local governments or individuals, such as recipients of Medicaid,
food stamps or unemployment benefits.

Overall, Indiana is expected to receive about $4.7 billion from the $787
billion federal stimulus program designed to jump-start the economy. The data are part of a national effort by states to calculate
the effect of the stimulus program.

The state government figures reflect what has been awarded to 16 Indiana state
agencies and more than 50 programs.

The awards have gone to purposes and programs including supplemental services
for disadvantaged students; funding for property tax credits used by local governments for public safety and general government
purposes; a youth conservation project that lasted from May through September; home meal deliveries for seniors; and wastewater
treatment plant construction.

Cris Johnston, executive director of government efficiency and financial planning,
said the data are only a snapshot and it likely will take several more quarters to determine the full effect of the stimulus.

"Our approach has been to use the money quickly but balance that by using it prudently, and our report demonstrates
that," Johnston said Friday. "We’ll just have to keep an eye on each quarterly report."

Of Indiana’s
neighboring states, Illinois ranked seventh highest in the number of jobs retained or created at about 24,450; Michigan was
ninth with 22,500 jobs; Ohio was 13th with 17,100 jobs; and Kentucky was 36th at 4,200 jobs. California ranked first at nearly
110,200.

White House officials noted such comparisons can be skewed because some states have spent stimulus money
more quickly than others.

But Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, voicing the skepticism of many critics, has
warned about putting too much stock in claims that the stimulus saved that many jobs. Johnston, who oversees Indiana’s stimulus
spending for Daniels, said Friday the state reported under the stimulus requirements that 13,000 teaching jobs were created
or saved. But he’s not sure whether any of those people actually would have been laid off.

"I think that’s
a hypothetical. I’m not sure we can say one way or another," he said.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell
said "it’s bewildering" to see the Obama administration’s job-creation claims when 3 million jobs have been lost
since Congress approved the program.

The latest job count still includes mistakes. For example, the Palm Beach
County, Fla., water department reported 57 meter readers, customer service representatives and other positions as part of
two water projects. That got incorrectly doubled to 114.

Some agencies that received stimulus money continue to
report saving jobs, despite using the money for employee pay raises.

And the new data appeared to include at least
dozens of entries in which contractors listed the same number of jobs as created or saved on different projects, which suggested
double- or triple-counting of the same workers used on all projects.

It could take some time for the public to
verify the White House’s claims, with more than 155,000 records dumped late Friday on the recovery.gov Website, the government’s
official accounting of stimulus activity.
 

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