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SPECIAL Economic Recovery Update, 2/3/09
Bill status. All eyes are currently on the Senate, where it's possible that a vote won't happen until next week. The Senate's bill has $27 billion for road construction and repair. Sen. Diane Feinstein(D-CA) is expected to propose an additional $25 billion for highways, transit, and water projects. All indications are that they're going to trim some things that the House included; President Obama is reportedly pressuring Senate leaders to make changes that could garner Republican support. Yet the overall bill could be more expensive (the Congressional Budget Office estimate is $885 billion over ten years, about $65 billion more than the House version), especially if the Senate includes tax incentives for first-time homebuyers.
Regional response web page.At a new CMAP web page about the recovery package -- which we hope you will visitoften, especially between these weekly updates--ourstaff have posted new analysisfor the following recovery plan issue areas (click links to open detailed PDFs):
Economic Development, Workforce Development, and Telecommunications. Among the details are dollar breakdowns (federal and state, where available); guidance as to which federal agencies will administer funds; and which state, regional, and local organizations are eligible for funds.Formore, please contact CMAP's Annie Byrne (312-386-8786 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Housing.The Senate bill reduces housingfundsto $14.6 billion, compared totheHouse's $15.79billion. The most significantdifferenceis a $1.94 billiondecrease in Neighborhood StabilizationProgram Funds, from$4.19 billion inthe House to $2.25 billionin the Senate. Anothersignificant difference is that the Senatedoes not include any Community Development Block Grant(CDBG) funding, whereas the House bill contains $1 billion. Please contact Lee Deuben (email@example.com or 312-386-8623) for more.
Brownfields, Environment, and Water. In these issue areas, both the House and Senate bills are relatively consistent. They propose $100 million to remediate brownfield sites, likely through current US EPA Brownfields grant programs.We have identified over $75 billion in incentives to encourage green energy and reduced consumption, including funds for "smart-grid" technology, building retrofits, alternative fuel research, and tax breaks for energy conservation. The biggest water-related components are the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds,which will provide $6 billion and $2 billion, respectively, for loans with below-market interest rates to local governments to improve sewer and water systems.Please contact Kristin Heery (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-386-8802) or Jesse Elam (email@example.com or 312-386-8688).
Transportation analyses. As reportedabove, Senate amendments with significant bipartisan support are pending to increase thepackage's transportation funding. The Washington Letter on Transportation (requires subscription) indicates that Sens.Barbara Boxer (D-CA) andJames Inhofe (R-OK) will spearhead an amendment increasing highway spending and Sen. Schumer (D-NY) will do the same for transit.The municipalities, counties, IDOT, CTA, Metra and Pace are generating potential ready-to-go transportation projects that address the needs in northeastern Illinois and meet the intent of quickly infusing money into the economy. CMAP staff is in discussion with our partners to ensure thatour draft recommended criteria are widely available and well understood.
Also regarding transportation, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) did an in-depth comparison of the House and Senate bills, a summary of transportation amendments to the House bill, and a funding breakdown by program area in the House and Senate (including the original bills, markups, and final House version). The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) did a side-by-side comparison of the House bill as passed andthe Senate bill as introduced.
Infrastructure poll. The noted pollster Frank Luntz describes new research that shows broad public and bi-partisan support for funding infrastructure. Some of the numbers are eye-catching: Eighty-four percent of Americans want the federal government (and 83 percent want state government) to improve infrastructure, and 81 percent say they would pay an additional one percent in taxes to pay for it. The public also rates "accountability" and "transparency" as the most important principles for infrastructure investments. According to Luntz, "They firmly believe that they have the right to know their money is spent wisely, and expect to see the evidence on an ongoing basis."
New CBO report.Yesterday the CBO issued its latest analysis of HR1 and the Senate amendment proposed by Sen.Daniel Inouye (D-HI). It claims that 78 percent of the Senate version would be spent within two fiscal years, compared to 64 percent for the House version.
MPC statement. The Metropolitan Planning Council issued a press release stating its support for CMAP's efforts to help the region apply consistent criteria to evaluate projects eligible for federal recovery funding.
News links. Among the related media coverage:
U.S. News and World Report has an excellent summary of the Senate bill. The magazine's "economic stimulus" topic page has numerous up-to-date articles.
David E. Sanger of the New York Times describes tension between the economic package's goals in the short term (recovery) and long term (reform).
David Rogers of Politico analyzes the trade-offs under consideration in the Senate, including more infrastructure dollars and "foreclosure mitigation."