American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Helping Residents Of Nevada
Ms. BERKLEY. Madam Speaker, Nevada has been a boom State for as long as I can remember. My family has been there for 46 years, and with every passing year, more and more people moved in and more and more people flourished in a very strong economy. But when the bust came, it came with a vengeance, and I am afraid that the State of Nevada, like many other States in this country and many other countries in the world, is suffering and is in the midst of an economic crisis.
We have the highest mortgage foreclosure rate in the country in my congressional district and I have one of the highest unemployment rates. And what makes this so startling is perhaps a year ago there was virtually no unemployment in my district and in the State of Nevada.
There has been a lot of criticism about the stimulus package. It is called the Recovery Act, more commonly known as the stimulus package. People say it is not big enough. People say it is not fast enough and that it is not working. But I have to tell you, the people of Nevada have received extraordinary benefits from this stimulus package.
There was a reason that I voted for it. It provided education funding, unemployment benefits, health care benefits, tax breaks, Social Security money for my seniors, and my disabled veterans received substantial funds as well.
According to the Nevada State Treasurer, $426 million in stimulus funds have already been paid out to people in Nevada. That doesn't include the tax cuts, the Social Security payments or the payments to our disabled veterans. Money is flowing into Nevada and is keeping many families afloat during this economic crisis, and it is an economic crisis the likes of which none of us have ever seen and none of us ever thought would happen.
But let me tell you in real terms how this stimulus package is benefiting the folks back home.
Tax cuts: The Making Work Pay tax credit. I know you recall, Madam Speaker, there was $400 for individuals, $800 for families. Ninety-five percent of American families and individuals are already seeing a decrease in their withholding and their paychecks. One million families in Nevada are seeing more money in their monthly paycheck because of this stimulus package at a time when this money is so desperately needed.
118,000 Nevada families are going to benefit from the Child Tax Credit expansion.
American Opportunity Tax Credit. There is a new $2,500 tax credit that is going to help 32,000 Nevadans go to college. I know what it is like when you don't have money to go to college and you have to take out loans and grants. This is going to help kids, like me, that went to school and depended on these loans and grants.
Alternative minimum tax. 31,000 people in my district would have been slammed by the alternative minimum tax if the stimulus package had not been passed.
There is tax relief for business as well. Whether you are a large casino or a small business in the State of Nevada, we provided relief for you: cancellation of indebtedness, bonus depreciation, small business expensing. For most of us, we don't understand what that is, but for small business people and businesses in general, this is their very lifeblood, and we have saved thousands of Nevada's small businesses from going under.
Unemployment insurance. With an unemployment rate of over 12.5 percent and going higher--we haven't bottomed out yet--the very fact that we were able to provide unemployment benefits, extension of unemployment benefits and expansion, so that Nevada families that find themselves unemployed for the first time ever are going to be able to use this as a bridge to get from where they are now to where we need to be.
Health care. So many of my constituents, the very poorest of us, depend on Medicaid money. The State of Nevada had no Medicaid money. The Federal Government came in and helped the State of Nevada so that we can continue to provide health care for the poorest among us.
Education. We all talk about the importance of education and how it is the most important thing that we can provide children for their future and for the future of this country. Well, Nevada was broke. The State legislature couldn't figure out where we were going to get the money, and the Federal Government came to our rescue; $400 million in fiscal stabilization funds.
What is that? That means that we are going to prevent teacher layoffs and other education cuts. We were restoring the money that was slashed by the Nevada Legislature, $70 million in special education, $70 million in disadvantaged student funding. These were so important for the people of Nevada, so important for our schoolchildren.
And when things get tough and people are laid off, the first thing they are going to need is food stamps in order to feed their families.
I know that my time is almost up, but there are three things that are so important. A $250 one-time payment to all Social Security beneficiaries. That is 100,000 people in Nevada that will benefit from that. Veterans, a $250 one-time payment to disabled veterans. 18,000 veterans in Nevada will benefit from that. And infrastructure funding as well. $200 million will be spent in Nevada on infrastructure. $33 million are for flood control projects, and the rest is going to go to the Regional Transportation Commission to continue to improve our infrastructure, all very important.
The people of the State of Nevada need to know this, and I appreciate the fact that this body passed that legislation.