Officials waiting to see details of federal economic stimulus package


From Staff Reports

Officials at every level and division of government are waiting to see the exact provisions of the federal economic stimulus package expected to be signed by the president this week.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law a $787 billion economic stimulus bill this week, and government officials are waiting to see what the provisions of the bill are and how they might affect budget shortfalls, especially at the state and local level. 

State officials have been expecting a possible budget shortfall of up to $1 billion, and Gov. Phil Bredesen earlier asked department heads to prepare for as much as a 15 percent across the board reduction in their budgets. Bredesen and the leadership of the General Assembly last week agreed the administration would delay filing the proposed FY 2009-2010 budget until details of a potential federal stimulus package are known. (See details on the governor’s Sate of the State address on this page.) 

Local officials will also begin preliminary work on the county budget soon, and are awaiting details on how the federal package will affect the Clay budget.

New schools director Donnie Cherry briefly touched on the topic in his first director’s report at the February school board meeting last week. Local government relies heavily on state and federal funding, which provides the vast majority of the county’s budget. The Clay County budget totaled roughly $15.5  million this fiscal year, with the school system accounting for basically two-thirds of that total. 

Only three Republican senators supported the bill Obama was expected to sign in Denver yesterday, and no Republicans in the House of Representatives backed it, according to a Reuters news service story.