How big is our slice of the stimulus? Depends on who you ask

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How big is our slice of the stimulus? Depends on who you ask

Lancaster Eagle Gazette – LANCASTER — One year after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act became law, it's still tough to figure out how many jobs it created or preserved in Fairfield County.

Depending on who is crunching the numbers, the amount of stimulus funding for the county's municipalities and businesses could be as low as $13.7 million or as high as $30.1 million. Job estimates range from the eight created last year to the 149 projected once all the projects are under way.

The $787 billion package passed by Congress this past February included:

$288 billion for tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits

$224 billion in aid to state governments, funds for education, health care and entitlement programs

$275 billion in federal contracts, grants and loans doled out by a competitive projects.

Recipients of the latter category must report their progress to http://www.recovery.gov, the federal government's tracking Web site. However, a CentralOhio.com analysis found many duplicated entries and incomplete data.

Also, because the law did not provide a penalty for failing to report projects, there are an unknown number of recipients missing from the database, said Recovery board spokesman Ed Pound.

What one sees on Recovery.gov is just a third of the bigger picture, said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown., D-Ohio.

The funds going toward tax breaks, extended unemployment benefits and aid to local governments helped a great deal, he said.

"There would have been huge layoffs throughout state and local governments," Brown said. "The fact that schools are safer and hospitals are operating are all part of that infrastructure."

In Ohio, the stimulus funds also helped the state bring in more clean energy jobs by providing tax credits to businesses.

With that said, Brown agreed the money needs to be distributed faster.

"If we had not done this, the economy would be much worse," Brown said. "We inherited a budget deficit, a war that was not paid for, a giveaway to insurance companies and tax cuts to the rich."

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