Rep. Courtney Statement On House Passage Of American Recovery And Reinvestment Act
Congressman Joe Courtney and the House of Representatives today passed a compromise version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), which will create or save more than three million good-paying jobs and offer tax relief to 95 percent of Americans.
"This is decisive action needed right now to help eastern Connecticut dig out from this financial collapse and devastating job losses," Rep. Courtney said. "This unprecedented economic crisis has been building for nearly a decade, and we cannot expect that it will be resolved immediately. However, with this defining investment made today in our nation's future, we will begin to put people back to work, provide immediate tax relief to ease the pressure on family budgets, and provide our economy with a solid foundation for recovery."
The conference report provides significant fiscal support to Connecticut to help the state and municipalities address budget shortfalls, maintain critical services and save or create an estimated 41,000 jobs in the state. Connecticut is estimated to receive:
$487.5 million in new infrastructure investment, including $302 million for highways and bridges, $137.5 million for transit and $48 million for capitalization grants into the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which helps municipalities, invest in water infrastructure.
$545.8 million in state fiscal stabilization funding, of which 81.8 percent will be used boost state support to local school systems and 18.2 percent will be used to support other critical needs such as public safety and job creation through school modernization. This funding will help address state and municipal budget shortfalls and prevent reductions in education services and jobs.
$240.8 million for additional education assistance in 2009, including $136.4 million for IDEA special education, $72.4 million for Title I grants to local education systems, $24.7 million for Title I school improvements, $202,000 to help homeless students, $4.8 million for education technology improvements and $2.3 million for Head Start.
$66 million for weatherization assistance to help Connecticut families make their homes energy efficient. This funding not only helps families reduce their recurring energy costs, but helps to create employment opportunities for individuals to implement and install energy efficient improvements.
$1.3 billion in Medicaid assistance to the state, provided over two years, to help maintain critical health-related services for those in the most need during our economic downturn.
In addition, the bill provides assistance to individuals and families in Connecticut. For example, the agreement:
Boosts the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 to a total of $5,231 in 2009 and $5,431 in 2010. An estimated 51,992 students would be eligible for the expanded Pell Grant funding.
Provides a $250 Economic Recovery Payment to those struggling to make ends meet, including retirees, disabled individuals and SSI recipients receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration and disabled veterans receiving benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Establishes a "Make Work Pay" tax cut of up to $800 for 1,350,000 Connecticut workers and their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President's Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers' paychecks.
Makes 30,000 families eligible for a new tax credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide - and 30,000 families in Connecticut - new assistance to put college within their reach.
Offers an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to workers in Connecticut who have lost their jobs.
Click here for a full overview of the appropriations, tax and state fiscal support provisions of the conference report.
Over the past several months, Congressman Courtney has hosted dozens of meetings with local and state officials, school district Superintendents, local businesses, community leaders and others to hear first-hand the challenges they faced in the current economic climate.
"Whether it was meeting with education officials at Eastern Connecticut State University and Lyme Academy, or meeting with mayors and first selectmen from across eastern Connecticut, the message was the same: help is urgently needed," Courtney continued. "Everyone is assuming the worst and preparing to pull back to make ends meet. This bill is critical to helping Connecticut and towns across our region recover - by creating jobs through investment in improving local infrastructure as well as to filling gaps in state and local budgets in order to prevent damaging cuts to education and other services.