Who’s overseeing your stimulus dollars?

The California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency has asked the Bay Area Council Economic Institute to collect all federal stimulus funding proposals from the region’s governments, agencies, districts, businesses and citizens; evaluate and prioritize them; and put the highest priority projects in one “Bay Area Economic Recovery Workplan.” BT&H will then use the plan to dole out stimulus funds plus other state economic-development money.

They’ll have to work fast; the plan is due by June 1, just 66 days away.

“The Bay Area has urgent need for stimulus funds and presents a wealth of opportunity for wise long-term investments,” BACEI president Sean Randolph said. “Our very difficult task is to gather project proposals from businesses, cities and counties, transportation agencies and many others, and prioritize them into one region-wide strategy for economic recovery. (BT&H) Secretary Bonner should be congratulated for demanding a process to thwart ‘pork barrel’ projects, and focusing this effort on regions, which are the engines of California’s economy.”

More on how the BACEI intends to seek the most bang for our stimulus bucks, after the jump…

BACEI says projects and initiatives pitched for inclusion in the regional plan “should consider environmental sustainability,” create “significant near-term job creation” and have the “potential to generate long-term growth with high return on investment.” Favor will be given to projects that are likely to create jobs sustainable in the longer term; that are regional, spanning more than one city, county or sponsoring agency; that use federal or state money to leverage other funding; and that align with state programs and priorities without needing new legislation or significant new state resources.

Generally, the projects should fall into one of seven subject categories:

  • transportation, with an eye toward regional mobility and smart growth;
  • water, as in improving the regional supply’s reliability and security;
  • energy/climate, for improving energy efficiency, transmission and other infrastructure, as well as research and development;
  • human capital, to boost workforce training and education both in the short term and for future needs;
  • business development, to streamline funding flows and stimulate job creation through business expansion;
  • science and innovation, to leverage universities, labs and other innovation drivers through innovation zones or other mechanisms; and
  • housing, to address foreclosures, finance, land use and affordable-housing policies as well as potential projects to support transit integration and so forth.
  • The Bay Area Council is a public-policy advocacy group composed of the region’s top employers; its members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion worldwide. The Bay Area Economic Forum merged with it last year, leading to the BACEI’s creation; the Council and the Association of Bay Area Governments are its leading partners.

    Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the creation of a California Federal Economic Stimulus Task Force that’ll track federal money, grab as much of it as possible for the Golden State and see that it’s used effectively and with accountability – a bridge between the Obama Administration and local governments.

    Cynthia Bryant, the governor’s deputy chief of staff and Office of Planning and Research director, will head the task force and be the top liaison to Washington, while Finance Department Chief Deputy Director Ana Matosantos will be the task force’s deputy coordinator, tracking the money coming into the state and the guidelines for competing for those funds. Finance Department Chief Operating Officer Fred Klass will oversee accountability and auditing functions; California Chief Information Officer Teri Takai will oversee information and transparency; Luis Portillo, director of the governor’s Constituent Affairs office, will serve as public liaison; and Jeffrey Barker, Schwarzenegger’s chief deputy communications director, will be the task force’s communications director.

    “If used efficiently, the Recovery Act dollars coming into California will be an instrumental part of getting our state back on track,” Bryant said. “With dozens of streams of funding and myriad guidelines and deadlines to meet, this task force will make certain that California is tapping into all available federal funding.”

    The Task Force will include one representative from each of the main program areas:

  • Health & Human Services/Health IT: Joe Munso, Undersecretary of the Health & Human Services Agency;
  • Transportation: Caltrans Director Will Kempton;
  • Housing: Housing & Community Development Department Director Lynn Jacobs;
  • Energy: Resources Agency Deputy Secretary Todd Ferrara;
  • Environment/Water Quality: Cal-EPA Deputy Secretary Patty Zwarts;
  • General Government: Tracy Arnold, the governor’s Director for Jobs & Economic Growth;
  • Education: Kathy Gaither, Undersecretary of the Office of Secretary of Education;
  • Labor: Labor and Workforce Development Agency Deputy Secretary Jaime Fall; and
  • Broadband: Teri Takai.
  • The state estimates that it stands to get about $85 billion in federal stimulus aid: about $50 billion in education, infrastructure and other spending, and about $35 billion in tax benefits.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.