A report released earlier this month by the state says that $702 million in federal stimulus money helped save close to 17,000 government jobs. According to the Stimulus Accountability office, $593 million of the money went toward balancing shortfalls in the state’s budget resulting from poor tax revenues. That money allowed the state to pay the salaries of teachers, professors and public safety employees who would have otherwise been laid off. The remaining funds went toward a variety of public programs ranging from housing to transportation. In addition to saving jobs the stimulus money helped create around 6,000 new jobs in the state. Sid Johnson, the director of stimulus accountability, says the first quarterly report shows that the state is on track in its spending.
"If you look at the percentage of time we’ve gone through and the percentage of money those match up pretty well, so I’m satisfied with our progress so far," said Johnson.
Critics say the stimulus money isn’t working. The total amount of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money Georgia expects to receive is $6.5 billion. The state will have until the end of the 2011 fiscal year to spend the money.