WisBusiness: State recovery chief says needs outweigh available money

By WisBusiness staff

MADISON — The head of the new state office coordinating billions in federal stimulus dollars said Thursday that some of those needing the money may end up disappointed.

“The needs far outweigh the money,” warned Gary Wolter, the MG&E executive who was tapped by Gov. Jim Doyle to lead the Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment. “There’s a big problem with the expectations.”

Green energy applications are swamping the office, for example, he said, and while worthy, many won’t be funded.

Wolter told the monthly WisPolitics.com luncheon at the Madison Club that if you had generated a project list before the final bill passed Congress and was signed by President Obama, you should “throw the list away” and quickly get into the formal application process.

Most of the money is moving through existing state and local government channels, but he said it’ll be up to some groups to apply directly to the feds for grant money on their own.

He said part of his office’s mission is to help maximize the package’s impact in Wisconsin as well as retain and create jobs. “There’s a lot of people hurting,” Wolter said

The office’s primary role isn’t to decide where the money goes but to “hook people up who have interest in the money … with state agencies who are administering the money.”