Hard to say what the recovery package passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday means for the state’s largest city, but we must wait for the Senate to pass its measure before it goes back for a full Congressional vote and then on to Barack for his signature which could be within two weeks.
It appears the moolah will go directly to the state and be sprinkled among the state’s 160 or so cities and towns for infrastructure, education and a variety of other spending items. This is where it would be nice for the city to have a united legislative delegation, actual respect among decision-makers in Hartford to leverage as much as possible, but local pols are loath to check their egos at the door. Maybe they’ll fool us and deliver the goods.
State Rep. Chris Caruso, with Bob Keeley having been lanced by Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, is now the senior member of the delegation. Does anyone up there like him? Certainly not the governor. How about House leadership? They may throw him a few crumbs just to lessen his meowing about this and that.
So Grogins is new, State Sen. Anthony Musto, who defeated Republican Rob Russo in the general election only because Barack headed the ticket, is new. Ten months on the job and Russo secured money for a comprehensive audit of the Board of Education (no one else did that), he saved Lacey Manufacturing from moving out of state and delivered a few million for flood control in the North End. Pretty darn good record for 10 months.
State Rep. Eze Santiago is new. State Rep. Andres Ayala is building respect. The irrepressible State Sen. Ed Gomes will fight his best for the city. Bottom line is the city will benefit only as much as the delegation is united negotiating on the city’s behalf, whether during this legislative session or persuading decision-makers in Hartford to direct recovery money to the city that needs it most.
For some initial insight into what the House vote on Wednesday means to the state, see the news release below from Congressman Jim Himes:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan: What It Means for Connecticut
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, legislation that will create and save jobs while investing in the future of our nation. This legislation comes at a challenging time for our nation’s economy. In the last year alone, 2.6 million jobs were lost in the United States–the worst year in more than 60 years.
Connecticut has faced unique challenges during the economic recession. The state is home to many of the financial institutions most hurt by the recent collapse of financial markets. Additionally, home foreclosures are on the rise, workers continue to lose their jobs, and the state’s infrastructure requires immediate attention.
This bleak economic record speaks to the urgency of this recovery plan. Without a plan for recovery, economists have predicted Connecticut’s unemployment will soar, businesses—large and small—will continue to close their doors, and the country’s dilapidated infrastructure will impede economic and community growth. To address these concerns, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been the top priority of the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress.
Immediate Boost and Long-Term Growth
Through tax cuts and investments, the $825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan creates or saves 3 to 4 million jobs, over 45,000 in Connecticut alone, while stimulating economic growth, according an analysis by Mark Zandi.
Specifically, Connecticut citizens will benefit from the following tax cuts:
· Child Tax Credit of up to $1,000 per child affecting 119,000 children (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
· Making Work Pay Tax Credit of up to $500 per worker affecting 1,217,000 Connecticut citizens (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
· Extends Production Tax Credit for energy from wind and other renewable sources (Ways and Means Committee)
· Modifies Investment Tax Credit of 30 percent for new renewable energy facilities (Ways and Means Committee)
· Increased tax credits from $500 to $1,500 to promote energy-efficient homes (Ways and Means Committee)
· Enhanced Research and Development Tax Credit of 20 percent for renewable energy and energy conservation technology (Ways and Means Committee)
Connecticut will also receive funding for:
· Infrastructure Investments – $584,010,217 (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
· · Highways and Bridges – $391,353,941
· · Transit Capital – $68,087,302
· · Clean Water State Revolving Fund – $71,112,789
· Medicaid – $1,207,178 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
· Food Stamps – $152,000,000 affecting 238,000 Connecticut families over five years (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
· Supplemental Security Income – $20,500,000 affecting 35,900 Connecticut seniors and disabled (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
· State Fiscal Stabilization Fund – $718,194,000 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
· Pell Grants – $170,915,690 affecting 51,992 students who will receive an average award of $3,287 (Department of Education)
· Head Start – $4,650,487 (Department of Health and Human Services)
· Child Care and Development Block Grant – $13,685,624 (Department of Health and Human Services)
· Employment and Training – $5,527,450 (Department of Labor)
· Community Services Block Grant – $12,061,834 (Department of Health and Human Services)
· Increase in Unemployment Benefits: (National Employment Law Project)
· · 277,766 Connecticut workers who have lost their jobs will receive a $25 per week increase in benefits
· · 41,770 Connecticut unemployed workers will continue to receive benefits
Support From Economists Across the Spectrum
Independent economists have confirmed that the recovery plan will meet its goal of creating or saving 3 to 4 million jobs. Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com and a former advisor to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, found that the recovery plan would lead to an unemployment rate 2.2 percent lower than if we did nothing, and that more than 90 percent of jobs created would be in the private sector. [Zandi Analysis, 1/21/09]
Accountability and Transparency
The recovery plan will include several important provisions to ensure that spending is transparent and it is clear to the American people where the money is going. The plan includes no earmarks and the Obama Administration will create a website to publically post details on how the money is being spent. These accountability provisions will give the American people the assurance that their money is being spent to get us out of this recession and is not subject to waste, fraud, or abuse.