Pryor Says Economic Recovery Package Will Create Jobs, Jumpstart Growth in Arkansas and Nation
Senator Mark Pryor announced thousands of jobs in Arkansas are expected to be sustained or created as a result of the $789 billion economic recovery package he voted for today. He said the package combines tax incentives for working families and small businesses with investments in Arkansas' infrastructure, including highways, water projects and broadband.
"Every economic indicator shows that our economy is flailing, but even more telling are the struggling families in Arkansas who can no longer put dinner on the table or pay their mortgage," Pryor said. "I'm optimistic this compromise package can offer some relief to Arkansans now and provide a path for the economy to recover."
Pryor said Arkansas will benefit from an infusion of federal funds for public works projects like roads, energy, broadband and schools, which will create construction and design jobs. Ninety percent of the jobs created will be in the private sector.
Highlights of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
· $27.5 billion for shovel-ready highway projects.
· $8.4 billion for investments in public transportation.
· $1.5 billion for competitive grants to state and local governments for transportation investments.
· $1.3 billion for investments in our air transportation system.
· $7.2 billion for broadband expansion.
· $1.28 billion to support $3.8 billion in loans and grants for needed water and waste disposal facilities in rural areas.
· $4.6 billion in funding for the Corps of Engineers.
· $1.2 billion for VA hospital and medical facility construction and improvements, long-term care facilities for veterans, and improvements at VA national cemeteries.
· $1 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program for community and economic development projects.
· $11.5 billion to support low-income housing programs, public housing backlogs, rental assistance, and homeless prevention activities.
· $19 billion to increase the use of health Information Technology in doctors' offices, hospitals and other medical facilities.
· $10 billion to conduct biomedical research in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease and stem cells, and to improve NIH facilities.
· Increases Temporary Federal Medical Assistance Percentage by 6.2%.
Education and Training:
· $53.6 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, including $39.5 billion to local school districts, which can be used for preventing cutbacks, preventing layoffs, school modernization, or other purposes.
· $13 billion for Title I to help close the achievement gap and enable disadvantaged students to reach their potential; and $12.2 billion for special education to improve educational outcomes for disabled children.
· $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500.
· $3.95 billion for job training programs.
· $3.4 billion for fossil energy research and development.
· $11 billion for smart-grid related activities.
· $6.3 billion for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Grants.
· $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program.
· $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research.
· $2 billion in grant funding for the manufacturing of advanced batteries systems and components and vehicle batteries that are produced in the United States.
· $6 billion for new loan guarantees aimed at standard renewable projects such as wind or solar projects and for electricity transmission projects.
· $1 billion for other energy efficiency programs including alternative fuel trucks and buses, transportation charging infrastructure, and smart and energy efficient appliances.
Help for Struggling Families:
· $19.9 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly Food Stamps, to increase the benefit by 13.6%.
· Extends and increases unemployment compensation benefits.
· Provides a 65% subsidy for COBRA health insurance premiums for up to 9 months.
· $2 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program.
· $2.1 billion for Head Start & Early Head Start, which will allow an additional 124,000 children to participate in development, educational, health, nutritional, social and other activities that prepare children for school.
· $4 billion to support state and local law enforcement efforts.
Key Tax Cuts for Working Families and Small Businesses
· 95% of workers will receive a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for workers and $800 for married couples. Taxpayers can receive the benefit through a reduction of income tax withheld from their paychecks, or by claiming the credit on their tax returns.
· Seniors, disabled veterans, and SSI recipients will receive a one-time payment of $250.
· Unemployed: Suspends the federal tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits.
· College Students: Provides a $2,500 tax credit for tuition and related expenses.
· Homebuyers: Provides an $8,000 tax credit for homes purchased before Dec. 1, 2009 for first-time homebuyers.
· Vehicles: Allows taxpayers to deduct State, local and excise taxes on new vehicles bought in 2009.
· AMT Relief: Protects 26 million families from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
· Small Business: Provides an extension of the increase in small business expensing; allows a new exclusion on the gain from the sale of certain small business stock; and provides incentives to hire unemployed veterans and disconnected youth. Reduces or eliminates various lender and borrower fees, bolsters funding for the Small Business Administration's microloan program, increases certain loan sizes, and increases the SBA-backed surety amount from $2 million to $5 million.