Courtney Votes for $835 Billion Investment in America's Future
Congressman Joe Courtney voted today in favor of H.R. 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was passed by the House of Representatives today by a vote of 244-188 and will invest approximately $835 billion to strengthen our economy by protecting and creating millions of new jobs.
"Every sector of our economy feels the ill of this recession, no industry public or private is immune from this crisis," stated Courtney. "The road to economic recovery will be a long one, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is an all hands on deck' plan that will spur the creation of millions of meaningful new jobs and build a more competitive workforce for the future."
The legislation will invest billions in transportation and infrastructure improvements, technology innovation and energy efficiency advancements, K-12 and higher education, and critical advancements to our nation's healthcare system. Connecticut will receive an estimated $1.2 billion in additional funding to help cover increased Medicaid costs which is devastating the state's budgets.
"My vote on this jobs creation package will put more cops on our streets, improve our local school buildings and makes college more affordable, helps to spur innovative energy efficiency programs, and move us towards energy independence, while giving tax breaks to families and small businesses," added Courtney. "While the Wall Street bailout last year forgot about Main Street, this legislation is an investment a better America for all."
Earlier Wednesday, Congressman Courtney hosted a press conference call for interested media. On the call were guests who represented industries that will be directly impacted by the economic stimulus program.
Rachel Johnston of Johnston Real Estate in Thompson lauded a tax credit of $7,500 to first-time homebuyers. Johnston believes that this will serve as an added incentive for prospective purchasers. The stimulus package codifies into law a provision that strikes a law that requires repayment of the credit for homes purchased after January 1, 2009. Now, first-time home buyers who qualify for the credit will be able to keep it.
"The housing crisis is not isolated to just simply the purchase or sale of a home. When a real estate transaction occurs, a buyer utilizes the services of lenders, appraisers, and home inspectors. Subsequently, there usually are repairs which must be completed which involve electrical, plumbing, heating and roofing contractors to name a few. All of these businesses are greatly affected by the lack of housing sales," stated Johnston.
"First time homebuyers are a critical component. When first time homebuyers purchase the typical starter house' the transaction enables the families in those homes to move up into the mid-range homes. Both of these transactions utilize the services of all of the businesses just mentioned," Johnston continues.
"The provision in the prior stimulus package providing a tax credit up to $7,500 for first time home buyers was a good start; however, the repayment provision negated the attractiveness of it. I am excited and optimistic that the elimination of this repayment obligation in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide the incentive for those first time home buyers to be able to realize the American Dream' - home ownership," Johnston added.
Don Shubert of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association in Hartford expressed his support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by detailing the local benefits that this package will have on transportation and infrastructure improvements.
"I commend Congressman Courtney for his work on this economic recovery plan" said Don Shubert, President of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. "The infrastructure investments in the bill create jobs, and create tangible assets that continue to provide public benefits and facilitate economic activities for years to come," Shubert said.
The Act is expected to invest approximately $584,010,217 in Connecticut for transportation and infrastructure modernization, transit grants, and programs intended to improve water quality.
Tony Sheridan of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce in Gales Ferry joined the press conference call to lend his support for the small business tax cuts that will benefit job growth and economic stabilization. The stimulus package offers business tax incentives to create jobs and spur investment to the tune of $20 billion over 10 years.
The bill would provide for an enhanced twenty percent (20%) R&D credit for businesses exploring alternative energy technology in 2009 and 2010 - a tax credit that Rep. Courtney has previously supported. In April 2008, Joe Courtney spearheaded a letter signed by 83 bi-partisan members to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner to bring up legislation that asks for the credit to be increased to 20 percent, and expanded for multiple years.
Finally, Jean Main, Director of Financial Aid at the University of Connecticut discussed how important the higher education provisions in the stimulus plan will be to making college more affordable and accessible in effect helping to build a more competitive and educated workforce for the future.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will invest $6 billion for higher education institutions to be used to renovate and modernize classrooms and buildings at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country. The stimulus also provides $1 billion for Educational Technology State Grants, which are used to integrate technology into curricula in order to improve teaching and learning.
The legislation makes sure that during these tough economic times, the door to a college education remains open to students. The bill creates a new "American Opportunity" tax credit with a maximum of $2,500 rather than the current maximum of $1,800 -- thereby making college more affordable for millions of low- and moderate-income students.
The Act makes college more affordable for 7 million students by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $500, for a maximum of $5,350 in 2009 and $5,550 in 2010, and also funding the shortfall in the program. The bill adds $490 million to the vital College Work-Study program that supports undergraduate and graduate students who work, allowing an additional 200,000 students to participate and increases the loan limit on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000.
Additionally, over 95% of working families throughout the country, and approximately 1,217,000 Connecticut residents will receive "Making Work Pay" tax credit. For 2009 and 2010, the bill would provide a refundable tax credit of up to $500 for working individuals and $1,000 for working families. This individual tax relief is top of an increase earned income tax credit and increased eligibility for the refundable portion of the child tax credit. These tax breaks are designed to provide relief to working families while the economy, with the help of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, begins to rebound.
"At its core, this stimulus package is about protecting and restoring the dignity of work and helping families to make ends meet during this deepening recession," Courtney said. "I am pleased with the passage of this bill in the House and urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this as quickly as possible."