To the Citizens of Massachusetts:
Over the past year, the Commonwealth has faced a host of economic challenges. Most of these challenges were precipitated by the global economic collapse that here in Massachusetts produced $9 billion in budget gaps, difficult cuts to worthy programs, and the elimination of thousands of jobs. Just like in household after household, and business after business, we, in state government have had to make do with less, to improvise and innovate, and to work harder. While tough choices still lie ahead, we remain hopeful. I am happy to report that in the second reporting quarter of the federal stimulus program, Massachusetts has seen real progress that benefits real people on an individual level - preserving and creating jobs while improving our infrastructure for the present and the future.
Federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) have enabled us to support economic recovery in Massachusetts. Federal money has not solved our fiscal problems, but it has helped cushion the blow. In the last quarter alone, ARRA dollars have funded over 4,700 full-time jobs here in Massachusetts.
Our administration has made economic recovery personal. Every job created means that one more family can continue to put food on their table or make their mortgage payments or send their child to college. We understand these and other challenges, and that is why both short-term and long-term job creation have been at the forefront of our economic recovery plan.
To create jobs, we leveraged our world-class universities and health care institutions, making investments in biotech, life sciences, and green technology so that the people of Massachusetts would have opportunities in the innovation economy of tomorrow. We made it personal, and federal stimulus has helped us do that.
Our clean and alternative energy initiatives set national standards. We will increase wind power 10-fold and solar power 15-fold by next year, and in the solar industry we have already more than doubled the number of jobs and quadrupled the number of companies. Construction projects like Assembly Square in Somerville, the Route 7 improvements in Pittsfield, the Route 24 ramp in Fall River, and dozens of others have been made possible by ARRA and by the Commonwealth's solid credit rating. These projects are putting people to work now, creating more jobs in the coming months, and will improve the quality of life in Massachusetts for years to come.
This quarter's Citizens' Update tells you not just about dollars, but stories of a few of the people across the Commonwealth whose lives have been impacted by ARRA. Stimulus funds in Lowell helped Tim Roussell keep his job as a police officer. Stimulus funds for low-income housing weatherization are helping Mary Reynolds and her grandchildren in Gloucester stay warm. And ARRA funds to upgrade the Fitchburg Commuter Rail line gave Steve Burns a chance to start all over again. In the pages that follow we offer these stories and others, real stories from real people whom ARRA has given a second chance at employment and a better quality of life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
I hope you find this information helpful in understanding the recovery program here in Massachusetts and how it affects you and your fellow citizens. The economic crisis is personal with real consequences for individual citizens. This administration will continue to strive to make the economic recovery personal as well. Federal stimulus is helping, but there is still work to be done. Unemployment in Massachusetts remains below the national average, but we will not be satisfied until we have put all our people back to work.
The Recovery Act continues to provide Massachusetts with a chance to create and save jobs now and also lay the foundation for economic growth for the future. The work goes on, and if we seize the opportunity this crisis has presented, I am certain our best days still lie ahead.