August 29, 2010

What has stimulus meant to Maine?

Kennebec Journal Staff

According the state figures, agencies have spent $984 million in stimulus funds through June 30.

About $640 million was spent through entitlement programs such as increased Medicaid funding and unemployment insurance extensions, said Ellen Schneiter, the acting commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

Nearly $100 million in competitive grant money has also flowed into the state from the stimulus.

Most working Mainers also received a middle-class tax cut -- $400 for individuals and $800 for couples -- or more, if they took advantage of the cash-for-clunkers rebate program, or the home buyer tax credits of $8,000 for first-time buyers or $6,500 for others.

Cash for clunkers cost $3 billion and provided car buyers with $3,500 or $4,500 in incentives to trade older cars for newer models. It boosted state revenues last year, but economic analysts have debated the program's overall effectiveness in spurring the national economy.

Taxpayers paid $24,000 per clunked vehicle, according to an analysis by automotive information website Edmunds.com from October 2009. A March report from Maritz Research, another automotive research firm, said cash-for-clunkers actually resulted in 542,000 in sales that wouldn't have otherwise happened.

Economic studies aside, Maine politicians sch as Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, say Collins' and Snowe's efforts have brought positive results home.

"Their impact has been huge, in terms of Maine," Baldacci said. "As difficult as things have been, it would have been more difficult without them."

-- Rebekah Metzler

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