By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
State officials Wednesday highlighted positive impacts the federal economic stimulus package is having on Colorado, especially in creating jobs through construction projects.
But critics remain skeptical of President Obama’s recovery plan, arguing that government control is not a long-term fix for fiscal woes, but will instead come back to haunt future generations of Americans. Opponents would rather see the free market system fix itself through citizens doing the spending.
But Gov. Bill Ritter Wednesday pointed out that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has put people back to work through construction projects. Since money started trickling in in May, Colorado has seen the creation of 1,685 jobs related to transportation projects, according to data as of July 31st.
The spike has resulted in an additional 86,332 payroll hours, or $2.14 million in payroll expenses, according to the governor’s office.
“Saving jobs and creating jobs are key elements of the Recovery Act — and we’re starting to see measurable benefits of that in Colorado with dozens of transportation construction projects now underway across the state,” said Ritter in a statement. “Millions of dollars have been paid to hard-working Coloradans statewide, and that amount is increasing every day.”
But Jeff Crank, state director for the conservative think tank Americans For Prosperity, recently told the Denver Daily News that a better way to stimulate the economy is to filter dollars into the hands of ordinary citizens and let them improve the economy through sales and property tax revenues.
He added that massive government spending will only come back to haunt Americans down the road.
“We’ve got every state in America, every community, every family right now is having to make tough choices, and this state’s no different — it should be making tough choices,” said Crank. “But this stimulus is exactly the opposite of that. It’s just saying, ‘We don’t have to make tough choices; let’s just spend it now and pass it along to our kids.’”
Still, state officials are praising the Obama administration’s stimulus efforts, arguing that without the infusion of cash the state would be in worse shape.
Transportation chief Russ George added that the state has done a good job of getting stimulus-funded projects rolling to maximize benefits.
“Colorado gets much-needed transportation projects,” he said. “But it’s the people on the ground who do the real work that really deserve the credit.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters