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News: How will we spend $5 billion from feds?

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While the US Senate continues to haggle with President Obama over his economic stimulus package, lawmakers in Indiana are planning how to spend the share of federal dollars that could come our way.

While most of what would come to Indiana would be earmarked for education spending, there is some room for Indiana politicians to determine how to spend several billion .

Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, has already expressed his cautious but optimistic support for the Obama plan, as noted by today's Los Angeles Times:

Economic conservatives such as Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Jim Gibbons of Nevada have set aside their qualms and generally supported the stimulus plan, with its promise of federal aid to help ease their state budget woes. "I have great misgivings . . . but I hope that it's going to work," Daniels told reporters Thursday in Indianapolis, saying he would work to make sure his state takes "maximum advantage" of the stimulus plan.

Of the $5 billion Indiana is expected to receive, the governor would like to allocate between $1.5 billion to $2 billion would be for capital projects, including roads and bridges; mass transit; renovation, repairs and lab spaces for public schools; and clean water projects.

Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) said Thursday that she feels hopeful that approximately $4 to $5 billion coming to Indiana through the federal stimulus package will allow the state to restore funding to critical job creation programs.

"If we are able to coordinate the incoming federal dollars with the current state budget negotiations, we can focus on a true economic recovery plan for Indiana," Simpson said in a press release.

"This is our opportunity to combine state and federal funding for both immediate job creation and future infrastructure improvements. We can also restore funding to important job building programs such as the Life Sciences Initiative, the High Growth Business Incentive Fund and tourism promotion.

"We all seem to be in agreement that the key to our economic recovery is investment that will put Hoosiers to work now. In the next few weeks we look forward to working with the governor to do just that."

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