Don Winstead, Gov. Charlie Crist's stimulus czar, briefed the Senate's budget committee Wednesday and said that, under federal formulas Florida can be created for creating jobs or helping employ 47,069 directly, indirectly or by way of some complicated "induced" formula due to the federal stimulus package.
That doesn't mean, though, that 47,000 new full-time workers now have employment. That number represents the affected jobs.
Winstead said that, under federal formulas, 29,320 jobs have been created or saved. The bulk of them are in schools. Those weren't new jobs. They were teachers, janitors, etc. who kept their work due to the stimulus (er. budget bailout) cash. About 1,800 new jobs were created in transportation projects.
Anticipating the doubts over the methodology of figuring what's a job and what was created, Winstead pointed out that the formulas were federally mandated.
Republican Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey commended the state for not giving in to early calls to spend road money on small projects quickly rather than on large projects. He also elicited Winstead to note that, without the stimulus money, the education system would have been without $2.7b this year.
“What would minus $2.7 billion mean in our school districts and colleges. I think it would have been a catastrophic impact (without it),” Winstead said. “Take all the stadiums (in Florida) and fill them with school children, that is about the number of children that would not have had instructional personnel without this money.”
Still, Ponte Vedra Republican Sen. John Thrasher pointed out that unemployment in Florida is 11 percent and is at 15 percent in some of the counties he represents. He also asked how many jobs were "government jobs:" Winstead said many of the jobs were public, but that unemployment could be worse.
"Would unemployment be higher without this money? Yes," Winstead said.
Eustis Republican Sen. Carey Baker suggested some of the jobs were "imagined," and pointed out that Florida isn't getting its fair share. Winstead, who estimated Florida would receive $15.7b total (an increase from the last estimate), said the state was at the mercy of the federal government and federal funding formulas.
Baker, noting the stimulus money would run out in 2011, asked: "Does the governor have a plan?"
Winstead grimaced and Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander saved him, noting the question should be reserved for Gov. Charlie Crist himself.
Crist's plan: Be in the U.S. Senate by 2011.