Lambert, KentAbout 20 percent of the $5.7 billion Colorado is expected to receive via the federal economic stimulus has been spent, helping to save or create almost 4,500 jobs—many in colleges, prisons, and highway construction, according to The Denver Post.

More than 50,000 needy college students shelled out less of their own cash after receiving additional grant money, about 6,200 first-time homebuyers took advantage of an $8,000 tax credit, and many of the unemployed received more benefits.

“This money has been a significant lifeline for Colorado,” says Myung Oak Kim, spokeswoman for the State Economic Recovery Accountability Board, in a statement that’s left state Representative Kent Lambert, a Colorado Springs Republican, bristling.

“It’s propping up state government at the expense of the private sector,” Lambert (pictured) says.

Indeed, the state government’s budget is looking grim, and Governor Bill Ritter is expected to outline plans today to slash an additional $280 million, writes The Associated Press, part of an effort to close the $1.8 billion shortfall. Yesterday, Ritter announced four additional furlough days for state workers (adding to the four previously announced) to save money.

Money is also extremely tight for local governments, such as Carbondale’s, where a 25 percent drop in revenues this year has forced the city to cut four full-time positions, including a police officer, reports the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent.