U.S. Senator Russ Feingold supported passage today of the final economic recovery package. The bill, designed to stimulate the economy and save or create up to 3.5 million jobs, was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives today and is headed to the President's desk for signature.
"It is troubling that Congress had to consider such a massive tax cut and spending bill that will drive our deficit further into the red," Feingold said. "But with every day bringing more news of job losses and economic hardship, we needed to take swift and responsible action to get our economy moving again. This bill, while far from perfect, offers a chance to turn our economy around while addressing our country's urgent infrastructure and energy challenges. While it will take time for the plan to yield benefits, I will work with both the state and federal government to make sure that this funding is used as effectively as possible."
Feingold Green Jobs Provision Included
The economic recovery package included a Feingold-authored provision to help create jobs by supporting energy efficiency projects. The provision, part of Feingold's E4 initiative to fuel job creation and spur economic development, will boost job growth and help businesses and homeowners go green by expanding the types of projects that are eligible for the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) program. Programs like Milwaukee's proposed Me2 program that support green-collar jobs installing energy efficiency upgrades in buildings are among the programs that would be eligible for these bonds. Feingold also supported efforts to increase the funding for the QECB program from $800 million to $3.2 billion, more than a 300 percent increase; Feingold's E-4 initiative proposed a similar increase.
The amendment is endorsed by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Joel Rogers, Director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Air Conditioning Contractors of America; American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy; Apollo Alliance; National Electrical Contractors Association; National SAVE Energy Coalition; Alliance for Water Efficiency; and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association.
"Increasing funding for the QECB program will help create jobs while also addressing our urgent energy needs," Feingold said. "I've heard from business and labor leaders and others in Wisconsin about the tremendous potential for energy efficiency retrofits to generate more green-collar jobs. My amendment could also help to launch programs like Milwaukee's Me2 program throughout Wisconsin and the nation at a time when our economy is in so much trouble."
"By expanding eligibility for the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) program, Milwaukee will be able to establish green community initiatives that can improve the health, wealth, and stability of our neighborhoods at a time when they need that help the most. The Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) project, for example, would create jobs while saving people money on their energy bills. We are excited that Me2, and other projects like it, can receive support from the QECB program. Senator Feingold's QECB amendment to the ARRA is a crucial step to preparing our communities for the clean energy future and we thank him for his leadership on this issue," Mayor Barrett said.
"We have a pressing need to provide innovative, market-based energy efficiency solutions in cities across the country. The program we at COWS have developed, Milwaukee Energy Efficiency or Me2, will give residents and businesses the ability to save energy with no upfront cost and no fear that they might relocate before net savings accrue. Such a program will save customers money, create green jobs, and reduce air emissions and other environmental consequences of energy use -- all without the heavy subsidies involved in traditional energy programs. The ability to use Qualified Energy Conservation Bond funding to capitalize such programs, as Senator Feingold's provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will do, will push these programs toward implementation and will allow us to achieve higher levels of efficiency, and I commend Senator Feingold for his work on this issue," said Rogers.
Feingold, Kohl Get Help for Harley-Davidson Included in Final Bill
An effort by Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold to expand a tax credit included in the economic recovery package could help motorcycle manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson. Earlier this week, Kohl and Feingold, along with Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Robert Casey (D-PA), wrote to the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee, which was heavily involved in crafting the economic recovery package, and requested that a tax credit for purchasers of new cars and light-duty trucks be expanded to include motorcycles, as well. The expansion was included in the final economic recovery package agreed upon by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
"The recent news about layoffs at Harley-Davidson was a painful sign of how the economic downturn is affecting Wisconsin," Feingold said. "This effort to make it easier for consumers to purchase motorcycles as well as cars should help lead to more Harley sales and more Wisconsin jobs. I'm happy I was able to help expand this tax credit to potentially help Wisconsin workers."
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also includes the following to help create jobs and boost our economy:
* Nearly $546 million in highway funding to repair and improve Wisconsin's roads and bridges.
* $151 million for Wisconsin's Weatherization Program.
* $62.7 million for Wisconsin's State Energy Program.
* $35.3 million in job training grants for adults, youths and dislocated workers.
* $82 million to improve Wisconsin's transit infrastructure along with competitively awarded funds of $8 billion for passenger rail and $1.5 billion for national infrastructure projects that Wisconsin can compete for to fund projects such as a Milwaukee-Madison or other high speed rail corridors to connect Midwestern cities.
* $107.6 million for Wisconsin's Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $38 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to create jobs improving Wisconsin's wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.
* $17.7 million for Wisconsin law enforcement, through the Byrne Grant program, to preserve critical crime-fighting programs and positions and protect communities from the damaging impact of the economic downturn.
* $193 million in funding for the supplemental nutrition assistance program, formerly known as food stamps, which experts agree is one of the fastest ways to infuse money into the economy.
* Approximately $26 million for the Public Housing Capital Fund which will allow public housing authorities to modernize public housing facilities throughout Wisconsin, including making them more energy efficient.
* $193 million nationally for farm loans and loan restructuring to counter the potential for farm foreclosures and job losses in the agricultural economy.
* A "Buy America" provision, long championed by Senator Feingold, requiring all public building and public works projects funded by the stimulus to use American iron and steel and other American-made goods in every possible instance to support American workers.