Governor Rendell has held dozens of press conferences over the past two years to tout the benefits of the federal stimulus package. The governor made one last argument for the legislation yesterday, saying it pumped more than $31 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy, through direct aid, tax credits, extended welfare benefits and funding for infrastructure projects. “All told, we received more than one billion dollars to repair our bridges and roads,” he said. “It’s helped resurface almost a thousand miles of highways, and improve six and a half million square feet of bridge deck area.”
The press conference was one of four Rendell scheduled for the last two days of his final week in office. Rendell also discussed the Haitian recovery effort Thursday. He’ll talk about Pennsylvania’s death penalty laws tomorrow.
Critics of the stimulus, like Matt Brouillette of the conservative-leaning Commonwealth Foundation, say the boost wasn’t worth the long-term consequences of increased federal debt. “Just the stimulus bill, of course you can say, ‘here are jobs that were created, albeit temporarily.’ But the overall impact and the long-term impact is going to be quite detrimental.”
The legislation also helped fill gaps in the last two budgets, but lawmakers won’t be able to count on federal support this year. The end of stimulus funding means an automatic $2.5 billion deficit in next year’s spending plan.