Finance Director breaks down stimulus

Published 8:48 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2009

State of Alabama Director of Finance Jim Main visited Chilton County earlier this week and gave residents a breakdown of how the state will spend $3 billion in federal stimulus funds.

The listed amount is the figure state officials expect to receive over the next two years, and there are very specific federal guidelines governing how and where the money can be spent.

The first billion — about $958 million to be more precise — will go to education in Alabama, divided among Title I schools ($163.2 million), special education ($187.8 million), education technology ($10.5 million) and fiscal stabilization ($596.4 million).

“The budget has been signed, and we only spent $500 million of the available funds,” Main told an audience at a Chilton County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday. “That kind of self-discipline is rare in politics.”

About $954 million will go to services paid out of the state’s General Fund Budget: $821.4 million to Medicaid and $132.7 million for fiscal stabilization.

The last $1 billion is designated for other existing programs, with half of that amount going toward transportation.

One example of the other programs is weatherization. These funds are dispersed by community action agencies to assist families in weather-proofing their homes by purchasing needed materials such as insulation, doors and other items.

Main said the state has two primary goals in communicating about the stimulus, 1) to do away with the myth of a big pot of money, and 2) to simplify the Web site,

“It is a work in progress,” he said.

More than anything, he said the state needed local partners in the areas of law enforcement, economic development, health and human services, and education in applying for federal grants.

“I think we need local participation in state agencies,” Main said.