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HomeNewsArchivesTerritory's Share of Stimulus Funds Now Projected at $70 Million

Territory's Share of Stimulus Funds Now Projected at $70 Million

June 15, 2009 — The Virgin Islands is eligible for a little more than $70 million in state fiscal-stabilization funds under the federal stimulus package passed by Congress in the wake of the current global financial crisis, an increase of almost $4 million from the V.I. government's initial projection of close to $67 million.
(See "Governor Calls Stimulus Plan a 'Breathtakingly Fresh' Approach.")
Most of the state stabilization funds — 82 percent — must be used to support public early-childhood learning, elementary, secondary and higher education. The remaining 18 percent can be used for school modernization, public safety and other government services, according to a statement issued Monday by Delegate Donna M. Christensen.
On Monday territorial governments received their applications for that first, larger part of the stimulus program, which must be aimed at maintaining essential educational services at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels, keeping teachers in classrooms and preventing the elimination of viable education programs. They will have until Aug. 1 to submit proposals. If accepted by the U.S. Department of Education, territorial governments will first receive 82 percent of the award, with the remaining 18 percent available after showing the initial funds were spent properly.
"I am told that in addition to the educational goals that the states have to meet, the territorial governments will also have to establish or complete the implementation of a credible financial-management system," Christensen said Monday. "Some of these funds can be used to enhance what the deJongh administration has already begun to do in order to ensure that our federal funding, in particular education funding that makes up a large part of funding from the federal government, is spent as it was intended."
Jean Greaux Jr., the governor's communications director, confirmed Christensen's statement Monday evening.
"From the beginning, strict oversight, transparency and accountability were part of the plan," he said, recalling that President Barack Obama publicly admonished the states to take proper care of the stimulus money and to spend it appropriately, right after he signed the stimulus package.
The large amount of money will be of tremendous use in keeping government — and especially the public schools — up and running despite rapidly falling tax revenues.
"Based on the guidelines the governor received today, a significant chunk of the money is for educational services, rehabilitation of the schools and the like, and the remainder of the money will go to keep government functioning," Greaux said.
The funding is being provided to maintain educational services first at the elementary level, then secondary and post-secondary, to keep teachers in the classroom, prevent the cutting of valuable programs, to work on enhancing teacher quality and infrastructure improvements, he said.
The smaller, second slice of 18 percent might have more flexibility in how it may be used.
"We are hoping the remainder will be available for broader purposes, but we don't have guidelines yet on how that funding can be spent," he said. "You may notice the total is a little over $70 million, which is about $4 million more than the governor originally projected."
The governor had a conversation this weekend with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a governors' symposium in North Carolina, following up on meetings with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and a conversation with Vice President Joe Biden, as part of his administration's efforts to get the most from the stimulus, Greaux said.
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