Study: N.H. near bottom in per-person stimulus aid

New Hampshire finishes in the bottom 10 in the country and lowest in the Northeast for federal money per person coming from the $87 billion stimulus package, according to a report.

And, according to the study by economist Brian Gottlob of PolEcon Research of Dover, all other New England states rank in the top 20 while New Hampshire is 40th. The study was conducted for Fred Tausch, a Nashua investor who created a stimulus watchdog group he calls Save The Economy Without Accumulating Record Debt, or STEWARD.

From the six largest grant programs under the stimulus, New Hampshire will receive $818 million, or about $620 per person, the study concludes.

The report did not include the impact of $564 million in tax breaks being given over three years to New Hampshire residents or smaller and still emerging grant programs that can’t be broken down yet, Gottlob said. All told, the state will receive about $1.5 billion from the stimulus, $920 million in all federal spending in the state and the tax cuts, he said.

Vermont ($1,016), Rhode Island ($911), Massachusetts ($885) and Maine ($836) all rank in the top 10. The closest state to New Hampshire with a smaller per-person grant is Virginia ($556).

Alaska ($1,099) leads the nation, while the smallest per-person grant state is Utah ($491), the study found.

Several federal programs set a minimum that all states must receive.

The eight states with fewer residents than New Hampshire all received more grant money per person than New Hampshire will and ranked in the top 20 in the U.S., according to the 26-page report.

“You would have thought our representatives would have gotten the state our fair share,” Tausch said.

The study acknowledged New Hampshire gets less because the grant dollars are based largely on existing federal programs not kind to states with relatively low unemployment and low percentages of families without health insurance or those living in poverty.

“States with more income, lower unemployment and fewer social problems generally pay more and receive fewer resources from the federal government,” Gottlob wrote.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said, on balance, the stimulus will be well worth the investment.

“The Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create jobs and help get our economy back on track by investing in New Hampshire’s roads, highways and bridges; by providing tax relief for middle class families and small businesses; and by making investments in clean energy and energy efficiency,” Alex Reese said. “This one piece of legislation alone won’t solve all our economic challenges, but it will lay the foundation for economic recovery in New Hampshire and across the nation.”

The study also reports less than a third of the stimulus money will stimulate the economy through increased government purchases of goods and services and up to $500 million is being used to supplant the state’s share of spending.

“While this will ease some of the fiscal pressures facing state and local government, it will have little or no job creation impact although it may prevent some job cuts,” Gottlob wrote. “Further, it is questionable whether it would even be desirable to stimulate job creation in two sectors of the economy, public education and health care, that have experienced among the fasted job growth over the past decade.”

Tausch voted for and contributed to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign but the federal stimulus package moved him to create STEWARD. This week he hired as an executive director for the group Erin Abell, who worked on U.S. Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign in New Hampshire before the primary and in Virginia for the general election.

Tausch claimed to have no ambition to use this as a springboard to seek political office in the future.

“The ongoing goal will be research and information that will allow people to make an informed decision,” Tausch said.

The report questions the claims of others about how many jobs the federal stimulus will create.

Economists in the Obama administration conclude it will add 16,000 jobs in the state by the fourth quarter of 2010. Moody’s estimates the impact here will be 20,000 jobs in 2010.

Gottlob said all he could predict for sure was 1,205 construction jobs would be created over the next three years and the individual tax breaks should support another 1,500 to 2,300 jobs in the state.

“The job impacts of specific spending proposals can be estimated for New Hampshire, but there are still too many unknowns and possible, unintended consequences to accurately forecast the total expected job creation of the plan in New Hampshire,” Gottlob said.