Governor Schweitzer Unveils Stimulus Spending Reports

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The state will track federal stimulus spending with detailed reports that will be available online, Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday.

The governor said the reports show what has taken place during the first month of the state’s spending of stimulus money.

“We’ve had a lot of folks say government needs to be more transparent, more accountable,” Schweitzer said. “On this site you will be able to track every penny of recovery dollars.”

The governor said the site, maintained by the governor’s communications and budget offices at www.recovery.mt.gov, includes interactive county maps that show a breakdown of funding, along with a state overview.

It also includes a list of all highway projects, and eventually will have live Web cams on the bigger projects. Photos will be posted to show progress on smaller infrastructure projects, Schweitzer said.

The state will also post individual contracts online as they are completed.

“We’re trying to make this transparent and make us as accountable as possible,” the governor said.

Schweitzer said he is a supporter of the spending on projects, and believes it will put people to work. He said projects will eventually post the number of jobs they created.

The governor also pointed to an online calculator that will show people how much money they can get in tax breaks with different home energy efficiency upgrades.

The Department of Transportation, which received more than $200 million in federal stimulus money, said its first projects are getting under way and said it is ahead of schedule in getting contracts in place.

The stimulus spending almost doubles the amount of money the state normally would spend on highway construction.

In total, the state received about $900 million in federal stimulus money. Much of it was earmarked by Congress for specific areas like road construction, but Montana was able to set many of its own priorities — ranging from more money for local infrastructure projects to more money to backfill education and state government budgets.

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