Local Politics

Benton to oversee N.C. stimulus effort

Posted February 17, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Gov. Beverly Perdue on Tuesday named former state Secretary of Health and Human Services Dempsey Benton to oversee North Carolina's $6 billion share of the federal stimulus package.

Benton will head the new Office of Economic Recovery & Investment, serving as a "stimulus czar" to coordinate and track how stimulus funds are spent, as well as how state-level economic recovery initiatives are handled.

North Carolina state seal in front of Legislative Building 'Stimulus czar' to ensure federal money creates jobs

Regarded as a fiscal conservative, Benton, 63, was Raleigh's city manager for 17 years before moving to state government in 2001. He served as chief deputy secretary of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources for six years and was DHHS secretary from August 2007 until January.

"He understands the problems, if you will, the challenges of working with the state of North Carolina," Perdue said. "He gets both sides of it, and I do believe his skill set is the best I could find."

The stimulus package, which President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday, will provide money to the state for infrastructure programs like road and school construction. According to White House estimates released Tuesday, the package will create or save 105,000 jobs in North Carolina, including an estimated 26,200 in the Triangle.

The state Department of Transportation will get about $838 million of North Carolina's share. The DOT has already identified 11 projects, totaling $93 million, it plans to approve next month and get started within 60 days. None is in the Triangle.

Another $533 million will go toward school construction, but Perdue said it's unclear how the rest will be divvied up.

"A lot of the money is Medicaid, a lot of the money is education and, quite frankly, a significant amount of money goes straight to local (governments)," she said.

On Monday, she expressed disappointment with the amount of federal aid North Carolina will receive, saying she expected more for the state's Medicaid program and to help erase a $2 billion deficit in the state budget.

"I'm looking this budget year at nearly $1 billion (in the hole after cuts). Next budget year, (it could be) perhaps as big as $3 billion," she said.

The Office of Economic Recovery & Investment will track the federal money flowing into state and local governments, as well as to private businesses and nonprofits; identify the fastest ways to move those funds into the economy and remove regulatory impediments; keep the public and government officials updated on the progress of the economic recovery effort; and track the state economy to measure progress of the recovery.

Staff in Perdue's office and from various state agencies will help operate the economic recovery office, which will cease to exist once the stimulus money has been spent.

"My mission is to get those activities under way, get the organization set up, get the staffing," Benton said.

46 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • workingforthosethatwont Feb 18, 2009

    He almost ran the city in the ground when he was city manager, then a joke at his last position...now this. Wonderful...just wonderful.
    Can't wait til Perdue is gone to.

  • demo7691 Feb 18, 2009

    Typical politician looking after thier buddies. They are talking about laying off employees in the state and Ole Bev makes positions for her friends.

  • computer trainer Feb 17, 2009

    pbjbeach, What does this have to do with Bush? We are talking about the person who is going to spend $6 BILLION for the state of NC.

  • geosol Feb 17, 2009

    Bad choice, Governor. This is the same guy that kept denying there was a problem with at the Raleigh WWTP that is now going to cost millions to fix, and completely mis-managed the DHHS while he was there. Couldn't you have found someone else that actually hasn't failed at their previous positions?

    Good luck!!

  • affirmativediversity Feb 17, 2009

    pbjbeach...36 out of 42...at least he was ahead of JIMMY CARTER...

    you know, JIMMY CARTER...20% interest rates, gas lines, out of control SOCIAL PROGRAM SPENDING...

  • WHEEL Feb 17, 2009

    They had to fire him from DHSS in the hope of getting Mental Hospital Money back from the Fed. Now they are dragging him out to do another high paying job that he doesn't have a clue how to do. Go get um Bev.

  • pbjbeach Feb 17, 2009

    STRICK DADDY

    A VOTE FOR MCCORY WOULD HAVE BEEN JUST LIKE VOTING FOR THE WONDERFUL GEORGE W BUSH ALL OVER AGAIN HE WAS SUCH A GREAT PRESIDENT FOR EIGHT YERAS THAT HE IS TODAY RANKED AS THE 36TH BEST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY OUT OF 42 PRESIDENTS. I THINK THAT THIS NEW PRESIDENT IS TRYING TO BE A PEOPLES PRESIDENT AN TO NOT TO BE BOUGHT AN SOLD BY THE COPORATIONS OF AMERICA AN CHINA INDIA. I FEEL THAT IT IS TIME THAT THE TAXPAYING CITZEN OF THIS COUNTRY THAT ARE TRYING THEIR BEST TO COPE WITH THE ECONOMY ARE GIVING A BREAK THE COPORATIONS HAVE HAD EVERYTHING THEIR WAY FOR THE LAST PAST EIGHT YEARS THANK YOU

  • craziecrafter Feb 17, 2009

    Benton will be good at this job, while he was City Manager he was a tyrant, he kept the purse strings tight and I mean tight. Since he retired the purse strings at the City of Raleigh have gotten REAL loose.

  • mindcrime Feb 17, 2009

    If our so-called "leaders" had any courage, they would simply refuse to take part in this boondoggle altogether. It's unconstitutional, it will hurt the economy more than it helps, and it will lead to a larger, more invasive government. There is *nothing* positive or beneficial about this "stimulus" plan.

  • itsnews2me Feb 17, 2009

    "Perdue expressed disappointment Monday with the amount of federal aid North Carolina will receive, saying she expected more to help the state's Medicaid program."

    She's got Cherry Hospital missing out on $800K in federal reimbursements every month because they can't get their act together. If she would fix that fiasco, that would bring in a significant chunk of change every month outside of Mr. Obama's stimulus plan. Perhaps Mr. Benton could address that funding drain.

    Oh wait, never mind....

More...