Brown says he’s frustrated by pace of stimulus spending; sits down with Menino

U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown said this week he was frustrated with the pace of the state’s economic stimulus spending, charging that Gov. Deval Patrick had not been funneling the funds fast enough. “The governor has a lot of stimulus money and he hasn’t released it,” Brown said.

The Wrentham Republican said on Tuesday that he would meet with Patrick today and “respectfully suggest” that the state deploy spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act more quickly.

Brown’s remarks, his most direct criticism of Patrick since the Senate election a week ago, came after a sitdown with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, whose successful reelection effort last year Brown said he had offered to endorse.

Patrick has repeatedly emphasized the positive economic impacts of stimulus spending, holding many public events around the state to showcase stimulus projects even as debate swirls over whether the spending is adding jobs or just papering over state government deficits.

On Tuesday, the governor said Brown had his facts wrong, and said the administration had strategized to slow down spending on projects where waiting could leverage additional funding and more jobs.

In October, Patrick said the ARRA funds had “created or retained” 23,533 jobs. Patrick communications director Kyle Sullivan said on Tuesday that state agencies had awarded $3.1 billion of the $4.3 billion they have received under ARRA, and spent $2.4 billion of that. Direct benefits like unemployment insurance, nutrition assistance and Medicaid have received $1.7 billion of that pool, and $675 million has gone toward programs and infrastructure projects through state agencies, Sullivan said.

The Brown-Menino event was one of several the senator-elect has held with leading Democrats in recent days, emblematic of his status as the lone GOP statewide officeholder. Speaking to reporters at the Parkman House on Beacon Street, Brown said he and Menino discussed summer jobs for teens and port security, and both pledged to work together despite partisan differences.

“That’s the past,” said Menino, who endorsed Attorney General Martha Coakley over Brown. “When you’re an elected official, you represent all the people.”

Brown aides said the date of his swearing-in remained unclear, although Feb. 11 has loomed as one possibility. Brown said, “I don’t even have a business card yet.”

Brown said he had offered to endorse the mayor in his reelection campaign last year but “he didn’t need it.”

Brown later met with African American ministers and community activists in Roxbury.