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Senator Murray Announces Investments for Washington State Workers in Senate Economic Recovery Package

Jan 28 2009

Hanford, BPA, and Tax-Relief for Washington families included in Senate Bill

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced many of the investments that she has helped to include in the Senate version of the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“It’s never been more clear that we need bold action to get our economy back on track,” Senator Murray said.  “American workers are looking to Congress to put our differences aside and put them back on the job.   This bill, while not perfect, invests in tried and true efforts like transportation projects, energy infrastructure, construction and tax breaks. 

“We’ve seen the painful cuts in Washington state’s budget.  From the Governor and local officials to families struggling to pay the mortgage, our state is asking for help now.  We need to pass this recovery package, but it is not the only step we will take. We will work with President Obama to move forward with policies and investments that ensure the strength of our economy and workforce well into the future.”

The following is a summary of some of the investments and tax cuts included in the Senate’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

WASHINGTON STATE INVESTMENTS

TRANSPORTATION

As Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray has worked to include a major investment in our roads, highways, transit, bridges and infrastructure in this bill. The investments in this bill will create both direct and indirect jobs. Based on DOT studies, every billion in federal dollars that goes to transportation supports over 27,000 American jobs.

Transportation funding Senator Murray worked to include in this bill:

  • Highway Investments: $27 billion nationwide -These funds will be distributed as grants using a formula set in current highway authorization law. The funding will be provided to states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) who will then determine which projects they will fund. In addition to highway, road , and bridge projects, eligible activities could also include rail and port infrastructure activities at the discretion of the states. 
  • Competitive Grants for Surface Transportation Investments: $5.5 billion nationwide - This funding will be awarded as competitive grants to state and local governments for surface transportation investments.  Grants may be awarded different kinds of surface transportation investments, including highway, transit, rail, or port infrastructure. The bill requires that projects must have a significant impact on the nation, a region, or a metropolitan area and that they can be completed within three years.  
  • Public Transportation Investments: $8.4 billion nationwide - This funding will be distributed to local areas using formulas set in current transit authorization law.  Eligible activities mirror those used for the existing FTA transit capital program.  
  • Aviation Investments: $1.3 billion nationwide -These funds will be allocated as competitive discretionary grants by the FAA.  Such grants will be used to improve safety and increase capacity.  $1.1 billion of this funding will be used for grants to airports across the nation for improvements, and the additional $200 million will go to FAA facility repairs. 
  • Railroad Investments: $3.1 billion nationwide - This funding includes $2 billion for grants to states for investments in high-speed rail corridors, $250 million for grants to states for investments in intercity passenger rail, and $850 million for capital grants to Amtrak
  • Maritime Investments: $160 million nationwide - This funding includes $100 million for grants to small shipyards and $60 million for grants to states for the construction of ferry transportation systems.

“Investing in our transportation goals is a proven way to help get our state back to work and our economy back on track,” said Senator Murray. “The investments we make in roads, bridges, highways and transit literally pave the way for growth. It will be up to our state and local communities to determine the best way to spend these dollars and get people back to work.”

HANFORD/ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

As a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray fought to include a major investment in Environmental Management and Hanford cleanup in this bill.

  • Environmental Management: $6.4 Billion nationwide – Increasing nuclear cleanup funding nationwide will mean jobs for recently laid-off Hanford worker and new jobs on projects that would help reduce the footprint of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. These jobs would include acceleration of river Corridor cleanup, early completion of K East D&D, and deployment of addition groundwater technologies to stop flow of contamination to the Columbia River. This investment will help reduce the overall cleanup footprint at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation by funding  accelerated cleanup of the 210-square-mile Columbia River Corridor and working to help shrink cleanup operations to the 75-square-mile Central Plateau by 2015.

“I fought for this funding in the economic recovery package because it will put workers in the Tri-Cities back on the job and help clean up Hanford,” said Senator Murray. “Our government has a legal and moral obligation to clean up nuclear waste and at a time when our economy is struggling we also have a commitment to put people back to work.  This bill is a win-win for the Tri-Cities and a big step toward making a real investment in Hanford in the final economic recovery package.”

BPA

As a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray worked to include additional borrowing authority for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)

  • BPA Additional Borrowing Authority: $3.25 billion to help create jobs, expand the Northwest’s power grid, and bring alternative energy sources onto the grid. 

 “This investment will help give BPA the resources needed to create family-wage jobs and bring new energy sources online across the Northwest,” said Senator Murray.  “This will allow us to get working today on creating a smarter, more sustainable power grid that is essential to our energy future. This is the type of investment with short and long-term economic benefits that will help get workers back on the job and our economy back on track.”

MEDICAID FUNDING FOR WASHINGTON STATE

Senator Murray worked to include funding to help Washington state deal with the rising costs of Medicaid.

  • State Fiscal Relief through Medicaid: $87 billion nationwide for assistance to states to help with Medicaid costs. Washington state will receive significant support through this program.

“This funding will relieve a major budget burden on Washington state,” said Senator Murray. “It will also help prevent drastic cuts to Medicaid that would cause millions of people to lose access to health care across our country.”

IMPORTANT NATIONAL INVESTMENTS

INVESTING IN WORKERS

As chair of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray is committed to giving working families in Washington state the support and resources they need to recover from this economic downturn. 

Workforce investments included in this bill:

  • Workforce Investment Act Funds: $3.25 billion nationwide, for employment and skills-training services for dislocated workers, adults, and youth.
  • Employment Services Grants: $400 million nationwide to help unemployed individuals find new jobs through state employment service agencies, including $250 million for states to provide reemployment services.  
  • Job Corps: $160 million nationwide to meet Job Corp Center construction needs while preparing participants for green¬-collar jobs.
  • YouthBuild : $100 million nationwide to enable disadvantaged youth to learn green construction skills.
  • Senior Community Service Employment Older Americans: $120 million nationwide to provide employment for older workers in community service. 
  • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants: $500 million nationwide that will go to state formula grants under the Workforce Investment Act to help individuals with disabilities secure good jobs.

Unemployment Insurance extensions and reform included in this bill:

  • Extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits: $27 billion nationwide to extend the emergency unemployment compensation program through December 2009. 
  • Increase in Unemployment Compensation: $9.3 billion nationwide to increase benefits by an additional $25 per week. 
  • Modernize UI Compensation: $2.6 billion nationwide to modernize the UI system, including $500 million total for states’ administrative costs, allowing states to help more low-income and part-time workers access benefits. 

“This investment in America’s workers is critical to our economic recovery efforts and long-term growth.  And I’m very pleased that this bill reflects several provisions I proposed in legislation introduced earlier this month,” Senator Murray said.  “But this recovery package is the only the first step.  We need to keep up our investments in our workers in order to strengthen and build a 21st century economy.  I’m hopeful that this investment sets the tone for once again making working families a top national priority.”   

EDUCATION

As a former educator and a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Murray is committed to giving Washington state schools, educators and parents the federal funding and support they need to educate our children. The investments and tax cuts in this bill will stimulate our economy by creating construction jobs and fostering our long-term economic competitiveness.

Education investments included in this bill:

  • School Construction: $19.5 billion nationwide for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades, energy efficiency improvements, university repairs and upgrades and early learning facilities. 
  • Pell Grant Increase: $13.9 billion nationwide to increase the Pell Grant maximum award and pay for increases in program costs resulting from increased eligibility and higher Pell Grant awards.
  • K-12 Education Funding: $13 billion nationwide, $146,138,000 for Washington to help prevent cuts to critical education programs and services for disadvantaged students as Washington state faces budget shortfalls that threaten education funding.

Education tax cuts included in this bill:

  • American Opportunity Tax Credit:  The proposal would create a $2,500 higher education tax credit that is available for the first four years of college.

“This investment will set in motion school construction projects across our state that will help create jobs and modernize our schools,” said Senator Murray. “This bill is a down payment on our long-term economic competiveness. Our schools and universities are the engines that drive our economy. If we allow them to fall victim to this crisis we will lose our foundation for success in the future. The 21st century global economy will not allow us to play catch up.”

HEALTH CARE

As a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Murray is fighting to ensure all Washington state families can see a doctor when they are sick.  It’s an effort she knows it’s particularly important now, as thousands of families have lost their jobs and their health insurance.  This bill makes critical investments that will create jobs, increase access to care in the short term, and help improve treatment and reduce health care costs over the long term. 

Health care investments included in this bill:

  • Health Information Technology: $5 billion nationwide to spur efforts to computerize patients’ medical records, and improve the quality and efficiency of care while producing significant cost savings. This funding will build significant infrastructure and create family-wage jobs.
  • Research: $3.5 billion nationwide for research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for treatment and cures for serious diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease, as well as to improve NIH facilities. These funds will put more Americans to work on projects that will cut overall health expenses. 
  • Prevention and Wellness: $5.8 billion nationwide to expand health care access through programs that provide childhood immunization, health screenings, or other services, and to help them recruit health professionals through scholarships and loan repayment programs. A portion of this funding will go to build America’s health care workforce.

“Thousands of Washington state families are struggling with the loss of their jobs and their health insurance. It’s critical that we do everything we can to ensure they can continue to see a doctor when they’re sick,” Senator Murray said.  “This bill takes important steps that will help keep Washingtonians healthy in the short term and the long term.  It provides help to communities and states so that families can continue to get health care, creates jobs, and will jumpstart new efforts to reduce health care costs and improve treatment.”

ENERGY

As a senior member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray is working to ensure that Washington state has the resources it needs to continue to build a strong green economy.

Energy investments included in this bill:

  • Bonneville Power Administration: $3.25 billion in additional borrowing authority, to be used to build critical infrastructure to integrate renewable resources, like wind, onto the power grid.
  • Weatherization Assistance: $2.9 billion nationwide for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income families weatherize their homes, making them more energy efficient and lowering energy bills.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research: $5 billion nationwide for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, and demonstration activities that will help deploy the technologies to move our country toward energy independence while protecting our planet by cutting carbon emissions.
  • Local Government Energy Grants: $4.2 billion nationwide in funding for programs that to help state and local governments and tribal governments invest in becoming more energy efficient.

Energy tax cuts included in this bill:

  • Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit: Provides for long-term extension of the renewable energy production tax credit for qualifying facilities, which provides certainty for investors in these projects.
  • Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs): Authorizes an additional $1.6 billion to finance facilities that generate electricity from renewable resources.  Publicly owned utilities in Washington state will be able to take advantage of these additional funds.
  • Advanced Energy Investment Credit: Up to $2 billion in tax credits for facilities that manufacture advanced energy property, such as the production of renewable energy, energy storage, energy conservation, and transmission and distribution systems.  These tax credits will encourage manufacturing of critical components in the United States.

“I am particularly proud that I was able to include a major investment in BPA’s future,” said Senator Murray. “The additional borrowing authority included for BPA will help create family-wage jobs and bring new energy sources online in our state.  It will allow us to get working today on creating a smarter, more sustainable power grid.”

TAX RELIEF AND INCENTIVES FOR FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES

As a member of Senate Democratic Leadership, Senator Murray has been a tireless advocate for reducing the tax burden of Washington state families and businesses.  The $455 billion in tax relief and incentives in this bill will help families and businesses weather the economic recession and help strengthen the overall economy.  The legislation also includes tax provisions that will help state and local governments make infrastructure investments. 

Tax relief provisions for individuals and families include in this bill (all figures are national numbers):

  • Tax Relief for Workers:  $142.2 billion in tax relief to 95 percent of working families in the United States.  This proposal would provide an individual tax credit in the amount of 6.2 percent of earned income not to exceed $500 for single returns and $1000 for joint returns in 2009 and 2010. 
  • Support for Seniors, Disabled Veterans and Social Security Beneficiaries: This would give these vulnerable groups a one-time payment of $300 to help pay for food and housing.
  • Increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit: $4.66 billion in tax relief through an increase in the earned income tax credit to help working families with three or more children.
  • Expansion of the Refundable Child Tax Credit: $10.5 billion in tax relief through an expansion of the Child Tax Credit.  proposal would increase the eligibility for the refundable child tax credit in 2009 and 2010 by lowering the threshold to $6,000.
  • First-time homebuyer credit: This would give families a $7,500 tax credit if they purchase a home after Jan. 1, 2009 and before July 1, 2009.

Tax relief provisions for businesses included in this bill:

  • Expansion of the Net Operating Loss Carry-Back Period: $17.2 billion in relief for businesses through the expansion of the carry-back period for Net Operating Losses from two years to five years for losses sustained in 2008 and 2009.
  • Extension of Bonus Depreciation: $5.3 billion in relief for businesses through the extension of accelerated depreciation for assets purchased and put into service in 2009.

Tax provisions for state and local governments included in this bill: 

  • Tax Exempt Bonds: $3.7 billion to enhance the demand for tax exempt bonds issued by states and local governments.
  • Tax Credit Bond Option (Build America Bonds): $6.8 billion to help state and local governments raise funds through a new tax credit bond option for capital projects.
  • New School Construction: $4.5 billion through the creation of a tax credit bond to fund new school construction.

“Giving Washington state families and businesses a targeted tax break will help them weather the economic recession and jumpstart the economy,” Senator Murray said. “The tax provisions in this bill help people all across the economic spectrum.  They help families in need keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  They help businesses struggling to make payroll.  And they help state and local governments trying to create jobs and pay for infrastructure.”

HOUSING

As Chairman of the Senate Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has worked to ensure that the Economic Recovery Act includes significant help to rehabilitate housing markets, support housing construction jobs, and expand affordable housing opportunities.

Housing investment included in this bill:

  • Neighborhood Stabilization Program: $2.25 billion nationwide for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.  This funding will be awarded competitively to States, local governments and non-profits.  The funding will be used to support communities across the country hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.  
  • Public Housing Construction Improvements: $5 billion nationwide is included in this bill to help public housing agencies address a $32 billion backlog in capital improvement needs—especially those improving energy efficiency in aging developments. $3 billion will be distributed by formula and $2 billion competitively to incentivize innovative and large-scale projects.  The investment will also yield significant economic benefits, including generating $2.12 cents in local economic activity for every dollar and creating or preserving 140,000 jobs in the housing construction sector devastated by the current recession.
  • HOME Housing Grants:  $2,250,000 nationwide is provided to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program block grant to enable state and local government, in partnership with community-based organizations, to acquire, construct, and rehabilitate affordable housing and provide rental assistance to poor families.  
  • Homelessness Prevention Fund: $1.5 billion nationwide for homelessness prevention activities, which will be sent out to states, cities and local governments through the emergency shelter grant formula.  The funding will be used for prevention activities, which include: short or medium-term rental assistance, first and last month’s rental payment, or utility payments.  As such, most of this funding will go directly into the economy of local communities as the funds will be used to pay housing and other associated costs in the private market.
  • Assisted Housing Stability and Energy and Green Retrofit Investments: $3.5 billion nationwide for energy and green retrofit investments in HUD-assisted housing as well as full year payments of section 8 project-based housing assistance. 

“This investment will help put people back to work by funding long neglected housing construction projects throughout the nation,” said Senator Murray. “It will also provide affordable housing support to those most affected by this crisis.”

LAW ENFORCEMENT

As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has strongly supported critical programs that protect our country.  At the same time, Senator Murray supports important programs that improve our “hometown security” by benefiting local first responders in our communities and neighborhoods. 

Law Enforcement investments included in this bill:

  • Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Hiring Program:  $1 billion nationwide for the COPS hiring grant program.  These competitive grants will fund the hiring of thousands of new police officers across the country.  This funding would help hire approximately 13,000 new police officers across the country. 
  • Byrne grants:  $1.9 billion nationwide for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants to support state and local law enforcement crime-fighting efforts.  
  • FBI Agents:  $75 million nationwide for additional FBI agents to investigate mortgage fraud and financial crimes.
  • U.S. Marshals Service:  $50 million nationwide for the U.S. Marshals Service to hire new Deputy U.S. Marshals to apprehend fugitive sex offenders and child predators who continue to roam in our communities. 

“I’ve consistently heard from Sheriffs and police officers throughout our state who say they don’t have the resources they need to hire new officers,” said Senator Murray. “This investment will help to create family-wage law enforcement jobs while improving safety in communities across our state. I am also particularly proud that this bill includes funding to hire more FBI agents at a time when mortgage fraud and other financial crimes are going unprosecuted.”

VETERANS FUNDING

  • Economic Recovery Payment: A one-time $300 economic recovery payment to veterans eligible for disability compensation or pension benefits.  
  • VA Construction: $3.4 billion nationwide for VA hospital and medical facility construction and improvements, long-term care facilities for veterans, and improvements at VA national cemeteries.  The VA estimates that this funding will support between 85,000 and 102,000 jobs.

“Our veterans are particularly vulnerable to the pains of an economic recession and giving them additional spending money to weather this crisis is the right thing to do,” said Senator Murray. “I am also pleased that we have been able to include investments in improving VA facilities that will create jobs and ensure our veterans are getting the support they deserve.”

HELPING FAMILIES HURT BY THE RECESSION

  • Nutrition: Food stamps recipients will receive a 12% increase in their monthly assistance for additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly the Food Stamp program). 

More on additional investments included in the Senate Economic Recover and Reinvestment Act of 2009 

More on additional investments tax cuts included in the Senate Economic Recover and Reinvestment Act of 2009