Today, Rep. Ben Ray Luján voted for the Jobs for Main Street Act, which will redirect bailout funds to create and save jobs. The legislation uses targeted investments ($75 billion) for highways and transit, school renovation, small business, job training, affordable housing, and the hiring of teachers, police, and firefighters -- key drivers of economic growth. The bill passed by a vote of 217 to 212.
"In the last month of the Bush Administration, we lost over 700,000 jobs -- we've come a long way to reversing these losses, but we need to keep working to turn our economy around," said Rep. Luján. "Today, we took another important step toward getting our country back on track and putting people to work. And by using remaining bailout funds to help families and small businesses, we have put the focus squarely where it belongs--not on Wall Street but on our communities."
In early December, Rep. Luján joined his colleagues in a letter to President Obama asking him to use remaining bailout funds to extend loans to small businesses. Similar provisions were included in the Jobs for Main Street Act. The legislation will eliminate fees on Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to make them more affordable for small businesses and encourage banks to lend to small businesses by raising to 90 percent (from 85 percent) the portion of a loan that the Small Business Administration will guarantee. He also joined his colleagues in the Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus to ask Congressional leadership to consider energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean water investments in a job creation legislation. The Jobs for Main Street Act includes investments in clean water infrastructure and $275 million for Green Jobs Grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency worker training programs.
Investments for Jobs on Main Street
The bill invests $48 billion to help put people back to work - rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and cleaning our air and water, including:
Highways, Transit and Other Infrastructure ($48 Billion)
· Highways & Transit-- Invests more than $35 billion in highways and mass transit. Every $1 billion of federal investments in highways creates an estimated 27,800 jobs without the state match.
· School Renovation -- Spurs billions in immediate investment in school construction, rehabilitation and repair.
· Clean Water and Housing -- Provides $2 billion to help communities build facilities for clean and safe water and $2 billion to help communities build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental homes for very low-income households and for repairs and rehabilitation of public housing.
Hiring of Teachers, Police, Firefighters & Job Training ($27 Billion)
· Education--Includes $23 billion to help states save or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years with an Education Jobs Fund solely focused on paying salaries.
· Police & Firefighters -- Puts over 5,000 law enforcement officers on the beat and invests in hiring and retaining firefighters.
· Training -- Invests about $2 billion for other hiring and training programs, that will support 25,000 more Americorps volunteers and 250,000 youth summer jobs; expands college work study jobs for 250,000 students; and supports job training for 150,000 people in high growth industries, such as health care and clean energy jobs, at community colleges.
The package extends several Recovery Act initiatives to help America's small businesses create jobs:
* Eliminates fees on Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to make them more affordable for small businesses
* Encourages banks to lend to small businesses by raising to 90 percent (from 85 percent) the portion of a loan that the Small Business Administration will guarantee.
Small business provisions in the Recovery Act have already supported tens of thousands of loans, helping to save or create thousands of jobs -- totaling $9 billion in new small business lending since the Recovery Act's passage.
Emergency Relief to Families Hit by the Recession
For those hardest hit by the recession, the bill includes emergency relief ($79 billion) -- extending unemployment benefits and help with health benefits for those out of work.
* Unemployment Benefits -- Extends emergency unemployment benefits through June of 2010. The program expires at the end of the year and, without an extension, roughly one million Americans will lose their emergency benefits in January 2010.
* Help with Health Insurance for Unemployed Workers (COBRA) -- Extends through June 30, 2010 a key provision to strengthen COBRA to help maintain health coverage during this downturn. (It makes these benefits available for people who were involuntarily separated from their jobs through June 30, 2010 and extends the months of help from 9 months to 15 months.) About 7 million people benefited from this provision in the Recovery Act and hundreds of thousands who got this subsidy when it was first made available in March are currently slated to roll off the program.
* Protecting Health Care Coverage for Millions through Medicaid (FMAP) -- Extends the provisions in the Recovery Act that provide the states with additional federal matching funds for Medicaid for six months -- from December 31, 2010 to June 30, 2011.
* Child Tax Credit -- Cuts taxes for 16 million families, by making the Child Tax Credit available to all low-income working families with children in 2010. (Under the Recovery Act, families must earn at least $3,000 in order to begin to take advantage of the $1,000 Child Tax Credit.)