The state unveiled its plan Monday for spending the bulk of more than $300 million in federal stimulus money, noting that most of it is targeted toward sewer and water projects, job training and the state's beleaguered unemployment insurance program.
In explaining what the money will be used for, Dan McElroy, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), said, "Our goal was to put this money to work as quickly as possible. Communities and job-seekers throughout Minnesota are seeing tangible results from this funding."
So far, $130 million of the federal funds received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has been committed to the state's unemployment insurance program, while $9.3 million more will be used to upgrade the program's computer systems.
The expenditures are timely.
Minnesota's unemployment benefits program went into arrears in July, automatically triggering a temporary loan from the federal unemployment benefits trust fund. The $19 million deficit was repaid on or about July 30, when companies paid their quarterly corporate unemployment insurance taxes, refilling the state's coffers.
DEED officials said Monday that the federal stimulus money has also been used to issue $25-a-week supplemental unemployment payments to laid-off workers. By year's end, $180 million will have been paid out under that program.
The state also allocated $94.8 million toward 40 wastewater, sewer and drinking water projects in outstate Minnesota, and expects to commit an additional $9.5 million within two weeks.
Money for retraining
Minnesota also pumped $20.6 million into the state's Dislocated Worker Program, which retrains laid-off workers for new careers. And $16.1 million has gone toward employment programs for at-risk youth. About 5,650 young people were able to find work this summer as a result.
Other state programs slated for federal funds include $5.1 million for the Small Cities Development Program in outstate Minnesota; $6.9 million to add 200 staffers to Minnesota's 47 WorkForce Centers; $6.3 million for adult employment and training programs and $544,000 for employment programs geared toward the elderly poor.
Also, $1.4 million, $4.2 million and $1.4 million, respectively, are intended for the State Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the state's Center for Independent Living program for the disabled.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725