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State Recovery Act Website:

California's state Recovery Act website scored 48 out of 100 possible points (ranking 7th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus.

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For detailed scoring information, see the California appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

To track and coordinate stimulus spending, Gov. Schwarzenegger has created the Federal Economic Stimulus Task Force. It will work with the federal government; help cities, counties, non-profits, and others access the available funding; ensure that the funding funneled through the state is spent efficiently and effectively; and maintain the Recovery Act website, which is supposed to be frequently updated for the public to be able to track the stimulus dollars. The task force will work with local governments, business, health, education and other groups. It will coordinate with potential recipients of the funds to draft a 24-month blueprint. The task force will produce a draft plan, hold hearings around the state working with Assembly committees, and produce its final plan by May 15.

Cynthia Bryant, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor and Director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, will lead the task force and serve as California's liaison to the federal government on the Recovery Act as the state's designated "czar." Bryant works with the governor's office and advises the state Republican Party in a number of capacities.

California's stimulus "czar" position is separate from the state's stimulus watchdog position.  On April 3, Gov. Schwarzenegger named Laura Chick as inspector general over ARRA funds, with the responsibility of reviewing work of the California Recovery Task Force and reporting directly to the governor.  Chick previously served as Los Angeles City Controller, a citywide elected position that functions as chief auditor, accountant and taxpayer's watchdog.

In late August, Chick warned that as much as 10 percent of stimulus funds could be lost to fraud.  She organized an assembly of district attorneys, FBI agents and other investigators in a "show of force" intended to deter would-be skimmers and scam artists.  In July, Chick sent a letter to California agencies last month asking them to begin report their spending plans.  The letters have been turned in and Chick is said to be meeting with agency representatives to go over their plans. 

Policy Debates

A combination of factors in California have made economic recovery a larger hurdle than anticipated.  The state's bellwether economy, its budget battle, and it's hyperbolic housing bubble have slowed recovery efforts, depressed employment numbers, and blunted the effect of stimulus spending.  California will get a definite boost from billions of dollars in spending on things like road and bridge repairs, but the state government's budget problems will offset some of the gains.  According to a Sacramento Bee estimate, state furloughs alone will reduce worker pay about 14 percent, erasing roughly a half-billion dollars from the Sacramento economy through next June.

While California's budget shortfall has had the state nearly deadlocked, the legislature has moved quickly on a few areas of stimulus spending. The Assembly and Senate have so far approved legislation on Medicaid and unemployment insurance and have approved the selection of water and transportation projects. California is taking all steps necessary to receiving ARRA fiscal stabilization funds.

Although California will receive more stimulus money than any other state, the funds will not completely solve the state's budget problems. Tax hikes and service reductions are still being fought over.  As of late August, the state is competing for an additional $4.35 billion in education funds provided by ARRA, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan has signaled that the state will likely be ineligible for the funds as a result of a state law.  In 2006 California passed legislation that prevents the state from linking student test performance data to evaluate teachers.  This law fails to comply with the Recovery Act's proposed "Race to the Top" guidelines, and unless the state changes the law, California will be out of the running.


Two ARRA-related coalitions have formed:

California Green Stimulus Coalition. This statewide coalition is chiefly calling for sustainable/green jobs to be created with stimulus funds, but they have announced that they desire transparency and accountability.  Members include:  Applied Research Center, California Apollo Alliance, California Building and Construction Trades Council, California EDGE Campaign, California Labor Federation, California League of Conservation Voters, California Workforce Association, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Stockton, Center on Policy Initiatives, Cesar Chavez Institute, SFSU, Communities for a Better Environment, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Environmental Defense Fund, Food & Water Watch, Global Exchange, Green For All, Green LA, Greenlining Institute, Heal the Bay, Infrastructure Academy, National Employment Law Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, PolicyLink, Sierra Club California, Southern California Watershed Alliance, The City Project, TransForm (formerly Transportation And Land-use Coalition), Urban Habitat, Working Partnerships USA.  See the coalition website for a full list of members and coalition principles.

San Diego Coalition for a Strong Middle Class.  This group has called for accountability and transparency in local spending of stimulus funds and has held a press conference to announce their local campaign.  Members include: Urban League of San Diego County, San Diego Education Association, Center on Policy Initiatives, Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, Parent Institute for Quality Education, San Diego Apollo Alliance, Barrio Station, ACORN, Empower San Diego, San Diego County Affordable Housing Coalition, Center for Social Advocacy, Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, San Diego County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Last updated on: 27 January, 2010

Quick Facts


Median Household Income:

Unemployment Rate:

Poverty Rate:

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$27.1 billion


California Budget Project, What Does the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Mean for California? March 9, 2009;  online here.

Center on Policy Initiatives:  Murtaza Baxamusa of CPI has written an editorial demanding that stimulus funds created jobs be "good jobs."  March 17, 2009; online here.

Community Innovators Lab @ MIT: California Stimulus Matrix; online here.

In April the Oakland NetWork for Responsible Development (ONWRD) issued "Principles on the Economic Stimulus" that focus on creating pathways out of poverty and building healthy sustainable communities.

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