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Is the Stimulus Stimulating Bloomington?

Baron Hill sat at a square table filled with Bloomington officials and asked them one by one if the stimulus has helped them so far. Resoundingly they said yes…sort of.

Some money’s been promised, but very little has actually flowed to the city yet. So department heads were thankful to Hill, who voted for the stimulus, but they didn’t have a lot to tell him. Hill, in town for the day, tried to reassure them.

“I could not believe that I voted for the stimulus. Go out and borrow 750 billion dollars from the Chinese in order to do the stimulus package, which is basically what we’re doing,” Hill said. “But these are unusual times. You can’t just lock yourself into some rigid philosophy. You gotta be practical about this. And I’m glad to hear that we’re actually getting results because of that vote.”

Much of the stimulus’ perceived success so far among Bloomington’s city officials is based on predictions and expectations. After all, it’s been just two months since the bill was passed.

Bloomington Transit Director Lew May told Hill the city’s new downtown Bloomington Transit terminal will benefit from one-point seven million dollars from the stimulus. But May says his organization hasn’t applied for that money yet.

Hill says he’s not sure when a verdict can be handed down on the $750 billion bill, but he admits there may be a need for a second stimulus.

There are some signs that we’re starting to turn the corner. Manufacturing’s up a bit. Housings up a little bit. Building’s up a little bit. We still have a long way to go,” Hill said. “And it remains to be seen whether we’ve completely turned the corner or not. Hopefully we won’t have to have another stimulus. But the primary function of the federal government right now is to be stimulating in terms of creating jobs and that sort of thing. So we’ll see.”

Hill says even if positive effects of the stimulus aren’t apparent yet, the package has at least borne psychological fruit, helping the public at least think times are getting better.

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