MAY 20, 2009

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Fallin, Cole Discuss Federal Stimulus at National Government Procurement Conference at Rose State College

Photo of Mary Fallin speaking at Rose State College.
Fifth District Congresswoman Mary Fallin speaks at a government procurement conference at Rose State College in April.

Oklahoma 5th District Congresswoman Mary Fallin said $2.6 billion in federal stimulus money is heading for Oklahoma, with substantial funds going to roads and bridges, education and defense, and also $478 million for “fiscal stabilization” of Oklahoma’s state budget.

Fallin gave the breakdown of the figures during opening remarks at the National Government Procurement Conference and Training Academy in April at the Rose State College campus. The conference was slated to instruct small business owners in procuring government contracts associated with the federal stimulus package.

“Oklahoma’s share of the package, a nice sum of money, is $2.6 billion. I wanted to outline the categories where this money will be spent,” Fallin said.

Fallin gave a general breakdown of the funding as follows:
• Defense spending. “$74 million total spent in Oklahoma, $44 million at Tinker, $9 million at Ft. Sill, $3 million at Vance, $1.8 million at Altus, and the rest of the money going to McAlester, to the ammunition plant, and to the Oklahoma Guard,” Fallin said.
• Roads and bridges. “There was $465 million allocated for Oklahoma in that category. It will go to roads and bridges. So far, we’ve let around $250 million in contracts through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation,” Fallin said.
• Education. “$157 million for special education. The education funds will go straight through the governor and (State Superintendent of Public Instruction) Sandy Garrett’s office. $141 million for Title 1 education,” Fallin said.
• State Government. “$478 million for what is called fiscal stabilization for state government. That probably means helping state governments that are seeing revenue losses with the recession,” Fallin said.
• Water projects. “$70 million of water infrastructure projects that can be used throughout our state,” Fallin said.
• Child health. “$30 million for child health care through the department of Human Services,” Fallin said.
• Immunization. “$3 million for immunizations.”
• Seniors. “$1 million for senior nutrition.”
• Schools. “$7 million for school computers.”
• Weatherization. “$63 million for home weatherization.”
• Housing. “$25 million for low income housing construction.”

Fallin said that although she originally voted against the stimulus package, that now, with its passage, the focus needs to be using the funds “wisely and efficiently.”

“No matter what someone’s position was on the stimulus, whether they were against it or supported it, the fact is, it’s done, it’s law,” Fallin said. “It’s coming to Oklahoma and now our responsibility is to make sure it’s spent on priorities, it’s transparent, that we are accountable for the money, that the money is used in efficient ways, that it’s used on priorities for our state and frankly, for our nation. That will be what I’ll be striving to do.”

Oklahoma 4th District Congressman Tom Cole said the estimated $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds coming to Oklahoma is already ours, so the state better take it.

“I’m not one of these guys who say ‘Send all the money back,’ because we’re going to pay the taxes, you’re going to pay part of the debt, we ought to get part of the opportunity,” Cole said. “These are not programs I support, but I’m also pretty practical. If money is going to be spent, Oklahomans are going to be paying their share and picking up their share of the national debt.”

Cole told the attendees that while not all programs will continue past the point of the stimulus initial stimulus funding, very many will in a state like Oklahoma, in what he called a “permanent expansion” of the federal government.

“Oklahomans don’t like to say this out loud. I don’t think very many of them know it, but Oklahoma is probably one of the biggest beneficiaries of federal spending in the United States,” Cole said. “We get back a buck and a half for every dollar we send in federal taxes to Washington, D.C. Where does that come from? We are right across the street from one of the biggest centers of it. That’s a $3.3 billion impact at Tinker Air Force Base.”