Update on Stimulus package

From Jerry Maygarden:


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

TALLAHASSEE—The process for distributing federal stimulus funds to state and local governments remains elusive. Moreover, the State of Florida does not seem to have a clearly defined methodology for determining how and to whom monies will be appropriated. Our contacts within state government appear to be waiting for federal rules that will give better directions concerning eligibility, the grant submission process and reporting procedures before adopting state guidelines.

Florida anticipates approximately $12.2 billion dollars in federal stimulus funding. Governor Crist has recommended using up to $7.9 billion of the stimulus package over the next 2 years to fill budget holes created by the national recession. His budget targets education, healthcare and transportation with the largest portion of federal funding. He proposes to use $3.2 billion in this year’s budget, which runs through the end of June, and another $4.7 billion in fiscal year 2009-2010, which begins July 1, 2009.

We believe the legislature intends to use as much of the stimulus money as possible to shore-up a state spending plan besieged by declining revenues. It is hard to say how much and when any portion of the money will actually make its way to local governments. Moreover, it is even harder to say how much, if any, will be approved for “discretionary” spending by local governments. We believe that the stimulus package will continue to garner more in the way of “strings” and “stipulations” as it moves from federal to state to the local level. By the time the journey is complete spending will be well-defined and restricted to those items of interest to state and federal lawmakers.

One caution: There are a number of lists floating about Tallahassee that were developed in preparation for the availability of federal funding. Unfortunately, the media has been reporting these early efforts to delineate “shovel ready” projects as approved targets for funding by one agency, entity or another. While these lists may serve as a starting point for further discussions, we do not consider them to be fait accompli.

We are continuing to track this process closely and do our best to position you for funding. We will make a special effort to keep you informed of any new developments.