Posted on February 17, 2009 6:07 AM
CMAP Economic Recovery Update, 2/17/09
The bill becomes law. President Obama today signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act while in Colorado to tour an alternative-energy project at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Click here for a White House description of the package. With the bill's enactment, the website Recovery.gov is now live. Intended as a significant tool for transparency and accountability, the site promises to show where and how the stimulus funds are being spent.
The latest bill summaries. On February 16, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee posted the following summaries of the H.R. 1 conference report:
The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) posted a summary of HR 1, updated February 16. See the NARC document for details of two significant provisions of the conference bill: $1.5 billion for competitive discretionary grants for surface transportation infrastructure capital improvements, and $9.3 billion for rail funding. The discretionary surface transportation projects are supposed to have "a significant impact on the nation, metro areas or a region," which seems to make CREATE a strong candidate for funding. The rail funding is apportioned as $8 billion for high-speed rail (HSR) corridors and intercity rail and $1.3 billion for Amtrak. The bill requires USDOT Secretary LaHood -- 60 days after enactment -- to present a strategic plan to Congress for use of the HSR funds. See also a less-detailed summary by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO).
Informal guidance on funding programs. Today, CMAP is sending a letter to local government leaders, providing informal guidance as to how they can apply for stimulus infrastructure funds. It is likely that local governments will need to submit applications to different state agencies for various types of projects, rather than submitting one "master list" to state or federal representatives. Click here for the letter, with guidance that pertains to Housing, Transportation, Environment, Energy, Economic and Workforce Development, and Telecommunications. PLEASE NOTE that this letter describes CMAP staff interpretations of the legislation and is meant to be used by local governments for informational purposes only -- it is NOT a call for projects or an official record of how the funding will be administered.
Issue area status reports. See CMAP's Regional Response web page for detailed materials posted by CMAP staff. Below are the most-recent updates, with links to detailed information as available.
- Housing. The H.R. 1 conference report merges several housing provisions that were in the House and Senate versions. The conference report includes $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (unlike the first NSP, this will be a competitive grant program), $2.25 billion in HOME Funds, $1.5 billion in Emergency Shelter Grants, $1 billion in Community Development Block Grants, $4 billion in public housing capital, $100 million for lead-based paint control, $2 billion in payments to owners of Section 8 properties, and $250 million for Section 8 energy retrofits. On the tax side, the homeownership tax break was reduced from the Senate's proposed $15,000 (which had broader eligibility requirements), to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers (waiving the requirement for the credit to be repaid).
- Transportation. CMAP staff have posted an up-to-date Issues Analysis that describes the following in more detail. At its March 6 meeting, the CMAP Transportation Committee will act on the first round of transportation funding coming to our region from the federal recovery act. IDOT will work with CMAP to develop the program marks for road funds and it is expected that RTA will split the mass transit funds among the three service boards using the traditional splits of 58 percent CTA, 34 percent Metra, and 8 percent Pace. In addition to the RTA's service boards and IDOT, programmers of transportation funds from the recovery bill will include the CMAP Council of Mayors and the city of Chicago. IDOT has released a list of $693 million in recovery act projects to be let on April 3. This letting is limited to state-programmed projects.
Economic Development, Workforce Development, and Telecommunications. CMAP staff have posted an up-to-date Issues Analysis that describes the following in more detail. Regarding Economic Development, there was a $100 million difference between the House and the Senate on funding for programs administered through the Economic Development Administration. The agreed amount reached in conference is the lower amount in the Senate version, $150 million. Of this, $50 million is allocated for the economic adjustment assistance programs, described in the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 as amended and available here. Regarding Workforce Development, the final amount allocated through formula and competitive grants for adult, youth, and dislocated programs is $3.95 million. This amount is a compromise between the House and Senate. An additional $1.2 billion is allocated to existing programs that focus training to specific populations, including older workers, people with disabilities, and other unemployed populations. And regarding Telecommunications, t he funding allocated for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is a compromise between the smaller House proposal and the Senate’s proposal for telecommunications; $4.35 billion is made available to expand and improve access to broadband. An additional $350 million remains for a national mapping inventory. The act also includes $2.5 billion as proposed by the House to increase access to broadband services to rural areas.
- Brownfields, Energy, and Water. CMAP staff have posted an up-to-date Issues Analysis that describes the following in more detail. The conference report on H.R. 1 includes $100 million to remediate brownfield sites. (See http://www.epa.gov/swerosps/bf/index.html for information about the EPA funding programs.) It also has over $45 billion to encourage "green" energy and increased efficiency. And appropriations to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF) are $4 billion and $2 billion, respectively.
- School Construction. The House originally had $16 billion set aside for school construction, repair, and modernization. The Senate version of the bill did not appropriate any money for school construction, repair, or modernization. The final bill comprised by creating a $8.8 billion fund for states that can be used for public safety and other government services, which may include assistance for elementary and secondary education, and for modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system. States were given complete discretion on how they can spend this money. That is to say that they can spend anywhere from all of the money to none of the money on any of the eligible expenses. One thing that they are not allowed to do is to use this money for new construction. It is unclear at this point how Illinois intends to distribute the approximately $380 million that our state is likely to get from this fund.
- Health Centers. The conference version of the bill invests $2 billion in community health centers to support construction, renovations and repairs, investments in health information technology, and critically needed healthcare services.
News links. Among the related media coverage:
- Two Brookings staff members wrote an editorial syndicated nationally by McClatchy Newspapers, including a reference to CMAP and metropolitan Chicago's regional response.
- The Daily Herald attempts to gauge the stimulus plan's impacts in our region.
- Crain's Chicago Business highlights the transit cuts that unfortunately made it into the final version of the bill.