[NOTE: This editorial originally appeared in the Patriot-Ledger]
Over a year after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), stimulus is working for the South Shore and across Massachusetts.
Stimulus is injecting money into our economy, creating and retaining jobs, protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and, through its ambitious transparency goals, effecting permanent change in the way government does business. Stimulus is a critical part of Governor Patrick's economic recovery plan, and it is one of the reasons that, under his leadership, Massachusetts is coming out of the worst recession in living memory faster and stronger than other states.
For starters, we have put a high priority on retaining police, firefighters, teachers and other professionals who keep us safe, educate our children and provide other essential services that keep our communities strong. Take Amy Moynihan, who was hired with ARRA funds as a special education coordinator in the Taunton Public School system for Kindergarten through 8 th grade. Recovery Act funds have allowed the Commonwealth to maintain special education services, like the one Ms. Moynihan provides even in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
In addition to ensuring that tens of thousands of people in the Commonwealth are working, Governor Patrick has aggressively promoted the Recovery program as the most transparent government program ever implemented. As a result, you can see the details of how your money is being spent on our website. You can see which company created which jobs. You can apply for a job. You can find stimulus contracts to bid on. You can read stimulus stories from all over Massachusetts. You can even share your feedback with me-and you'll get a response.
The Recovery Act is funding new energy technologies, such as solar panels on schools and municipal buildings in Norwell and a hot water heating system in Canton. We are leveraging investments in over 70 communities in water and sewer plants, producing nearly $800 million worth of construction, the highest of any state in the country.
More construction means more jobs.
Stimulus is funding low-income housing projects, including Cherry Hill in Plymouth, roads such as the Quincy Concourse project, and neighborhood health centers.
We are seeing results at the Bristol County Career Center, where Nancy Simmons sought help after being laid off. Ms. Simmons has since been hired by the center, thanks to stimulus funds. She helps people like Daniel Levesque who utilized the career center's services and now has a job as a lead coordinator at the Serta Mattress in Middleborough.
We are seeing results in Quincy, where Jim Donovan, a once-laid off truck driver, led a crew weatherizing homes under the stimulus-funded Weatherization Assistance Program.
And we are seeing results in Easton, where after being unemployed for 11 months, Eric Aubrey found a job at Nexamp, Inc., managing solar projects including the installation in Easton.
From the beginning of the program to March 31, 30,800 individuals received a direct ARRA-funded paycheck. And that number doesn't count all of the people who have indirect jobs supplying ARRA contractors with goods and services or even operating the sandwich shop near a work site.
The stimulus program is not itself responsible for the largest monthly employment gain in 17 years last April, or for the recent uptick in housing sales, or for the fact that for the first time in 20 years, more people are moving into Massachusetts than are moving out.
The Recovery Act is, however, an important piece of this puzzle.
I've heard Governor Patrick say that while we should be proud, statistics don't matter to the man or woman who is out of work. He says that for them and for our future, we will keep pushing forward.
That's just what we are doing. Our efforts must continue-and will continue-until everyone in Massachusetts is back to work.
Jeffrey A. Simon is the Director of the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office.