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McCampbell says stimulus worth the debt risk

While the governor tries to tread with caution on how the newly passed stimulus law will affect Alabama, State Rep. A.J. McCampbell, a legislator from Demopolis, says it can only help the state.

“The stimulus package just passed by Congress will bring more than $3 billion to Alabama in a time when our unemployment is rising and our state budgets are on the verge of collapse,” said McCampbell.

Gov. Bob Riley and several other Republican governors have especially been concerned over how the stimulus will affect long-term debt.

“The stimulus is now law,” said Riley earlier this week. “Where it gives us an opportunity to make Alabama a better state, we will use it. We also need to pay attention to any strings attached to it that have the potential to make Alabama’s budget situation worse in the long term.”

“Yes, it is true that the national debt will increase with this measure. No one likes deficit spending,” McCampbell said. “But the economy today is looking at its greatest threat in two generations. Banks are teetering on the edge. Credit has dried up. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to lay off workers just to keep their heads above water. If we do nothing, then the spiral may be deeper and longer, creating larger deficits as the economy goes down.”

Riley announced Friday that a Web site has been created to help Alabamians better understand how the stimulus funds will be used in the state.

The Web site is www.stimulus.alabama.-gov. There, Alabamians will be able to find information on the amounts of stimulus funds coming to various programs.

“About $1.1 billion is earmarked for Alabama education, money that will stabilize school budgets until the economy itself has stabilized,” said McCampbell.“This not only is good news for students and the thousands of teachers who will now stay in the classroom and out of the unemployment line; it is good for the economy of every community where these teachers work.”

McCampbell pointed out that education is not the only place where the stimulus will have an impact in Alabama.

“There is money for infrastructure, to improve and repair our roads and bridges,” he said. “There is money for other critical things like public safety and health care that were also headed for massive cuts.”

There are tax cuts for middle-class Alabamians, who will see more in their paycheck starting at the beginning of April. Within the stimulus is a critical extension of unemployment benefits. $99 million is set aside for Alabama, about $33 million that will help increase benefits by $25 per week.

“While increasing the national debt is of concern to all of us, the good that comes with this package outweighs potential negative impact,” McCampbell said. “In addition, doing nothing is just not an option.”

Debate over provisions in the economic stimulus plan are continuing bnationwide, but the state will benefit in many ways from it.