President Barack Obama implored states to spend their shares of the $787 billion economic stimulus package wisely — or else.
"If we see money being misspent, we're going to put a stop to it," Obama warned a gathering of state officials.
"What you do in the coming weeks, the coming months, over the next couple of years is going to make a huge difference in whether or not the trust the American people have placed in us is justified," he said, and added: "I have great confidence in you."
The president said states are on the front lines of what he called the most important task for the short term and the long term: turning around the recession. He also said the American people are behind what the administration and states are doing and "they are going to be watching very carefully" to see if officials can deliver.
"We're going to need to work really hard. We're going to need to make sure every single dollar is well spent," he said, and that means going "above and beyond the typical ways of doing business."
The president made the remarks during a brief appearance at a daylong White House conference aimed at making sure the stimulus funds are spent appropriately. The administration had asked each governor to send the state official in charge of stimulus money to learn about programs and initiatives available under the legislation, which Obama signed into law on Feb. 17.
The conference was billed as a way for these officials to propose and discuss ideas for spending the money, as well as to hear from several Cabinet secretaries and other administration officials.
Earlier, Vice President Joe Biden said states that misuse the money shouldn't expect more help from the federal government for a long time.
"If we don't get this right, folks, this is the end of the ability to convince Congress that anything should go to the states," he said.
"We are all on the line," Biden said. "The American people are looking for us to get this right."
Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu also announced $8 billion in stimulus money to be directed to state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts.