U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, the freshman congressman from the 4th District, visited with legislative leaders Friday at the state Capitol to let them know he will be working with officials at the state and local levels to implement the contents of the stimulus package even though his work on the legislation is done.
More than $1.6 billion is coming to the state and is expected to create more than 40,000 jobs, but Himes said it won’t fix the whole problem because tough work still needs to be done on the foreclosure crisis and to stabilize the financial services industry.
“The economy is in very serious trouble,” Himes said. “Anybody who thinks that the most severe economic crisis this country has faced since the 1930s, anybody who thinks that one legislative initiative is going to turn the corner on that in a matter of weeks … is sorely mistaken.”
The goal of the bill is to get roughly 75 percent of the money out in 18 months, Himes said. Along with the bill comes unprecedented transparency, he said, referring to new recovery.gov Web site being set up to track all the spending.
While some of the money coming to Connecticut will be doled out through federal grant formulas, a portion that will come directly to the state. The money that comes directly to the state for the shovel-ready projects will be controlled mostly by the Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
“I’m hopeful and confident that our governor will reach out and work with the mayors and work with the leadership of the Assembly and the Senate to make sure that the very substantial dollars that are there for Connecticut’s shovel-ready projects get deployed wisely,” Himes said.
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said the governor has set up a working group to discuss the shovel ready projects. “See what role we can play in making sure that we have a real partnership in making sure these projects go forward,” he said.
“I expect us to have a role,” Donovan said.