Feb 15, 2009
SACRAMENTO (AP) — Billions of dollars are headed to California from the federal stimulus bill, but state officials will not say how they plan to spend the money.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office refused a request from The Associated Press under the California Public Records Act to list in detail the projects the administration says will benefit. On Friday, the administration told some state agencies and departments to refuse comment about where the money would go.
The stimulus bill is expected to send more than $26 billion to California, according to California congressional offices. That amount is nearly one-quarter of the state’s general fund in any given year.
It includes $2.6 billion for highways, roads and bridges, $4.8 billion to repair school and university buildings, and $2 billion for state and local governments to buy foreclosed and vacant homes, according to the office Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The plan includes $10 billion for California Medicaid recipients, $10 billion to help the state’s public schools and fund federal grants for college students, and $1 billion for mass transit.
Other highlights include $444 million for water projects, $324 million for affordable housing and $127 million for community construction projects.
California also can apply for a share of $8 billion for intercity and high-speed rail grants.
In a January letter to then President-elect Barack Obama, Schwarzenegger said California had $44 billion worth of “ready-to-start” construction projects and other investments.
The AP subsequently sent a formal request for the specific projects that allowed the administration to arrive at the $44 billion cost estimate. The governor’s office rejected the AP’s request in a Feb. 2 letter.
Daniel Maguire, the administration’s deputy legal affairs secretary, said the documents were internal drafts, adding “disclosure would chill critical communications to and within the Governor’s Office, thereby harming the public interest.”
Schwarzenegger’s letter to Obama said California was prepared to spend $11.8 billion for energy and energy-efficiency projects, $11 billion for roads, transit and rail construction, $4 billion for health care, $8.5 billion in water and sewer projects, $1.1 billion in education and more than $5 billion in airport, park and public-safety projects.
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