Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Recovery in Action: Creating Jobs and Assisting States

The jobs created by the Recovery Act have received a lot of attention, and rightfully so: similar to previous weeks, thousands of Americans found employment this week thanks to the Recovery Act, in fields ranging from computer technology to weatherization.

But the Recovery Act isn’t solely focused on creating jobs—it is also providing timely assistance to state and local governments. As outlined in the stories below, funding provided by Recovery Act was crucial to off-setting revenue decreases caused by the economic downturn, enabling state and local governments to keep vital programs running and prevent layoffs:
Arizona, Arizona Republic, 8-4-09:
Arizona State University, the University of Arizona And Northern Arizona University Benefited From ARRA Revenue That Will "Save Hundreds Of Jobs." "Arizona's three state universities will start receiving $154 million in federal stimulus funds next week. The money won't make up for all the cuts in their state funding, but university officials say the infusion will help save hundreds of jobs. Arizona State, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have struggled amid record cuts in state funding. The national recession has caused state tax revenues to drop sharply and has led to widespread funding cuts to state agencies and schools. The universities saw a 20 percent, or $190 million, reduction in state funding for the 2008-09 school year. All three universities laid off employees during the past school year, eliminated academic programs with low enrollments and boosted some class sizes. While the $154 million in federal stimulus will backfill some of the loss in state funding, the $190 million is a permanent reduction to the university system's budget, so the federal money won't entirely cover the deficit in coming years. Even so, university officials are eager to get the money. NAU President John Haeger said in a statement that the stimulus means, ‘we will not have to endure more draconian cuts to our workforce or reduced programs and services for students.’ He estimates NAU's $23 million share of federal money will save more than 300 jobs and will limit employee furlough days to no more than three."
Kansas, Governor Mark Parkinson, 8/2/09:
Governor Parkinson Dubbed ARRA "Essential To [Kansas]" With Respect To Salvaging State Programs And Addressing Economic Burdens On Citizens. "To spur job creation and ease the pressure on the housing market, Governor Parkinson joined Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin in announcing the implementation of programs through the Department of the Treasury that will provide billions of dollars in recovery funds throughout the country and in Kansas. ‘The Recovery Act has been essential to our state, not only in terms of balancing the budget without demolishing essential state programs, but it's also been important to Kansans who are struggling to get through this national recession,’ Parkinson said. ‘Osawatomie is a great example of how the Recovery Act is making a difference - in this case, by creating and protecting jobs in construction, and providing affordable housing for our senior citizens. Projects, like Woodland Hills, will help communities across Kansas and the country get back on the road to recovery.’"
National, USA Today, 8/3/09:
Huge Influx Of Federal Stimulus Money To State And Local Governments More Than Offset A Sharp Drop In Tax Collections, Helping To Put The Brakes On The Nation’s Economic Decline. "A huge influx of federal stimulus money to state and local governments more than offset a sharp drop in tax collections, helping to put the brakes on the nation's economic decline, new government data show. The stimulus funds helped reverse six months of spending declines, pushing state and local government expenditures up 4.8% in the second quarter, reports the Bureau of Economic Analysis. ‘The money has caused a very sharp change in the path of the economy, which had been in steep decline,’ said Chad Stone, chief economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. Federal cash is now the No. 1 revenue source for state and local governments, surpassing sales and property taxes, the government data show. The flood of federal money lifted total revenues by 7.5%, overcoming an 8% drop in tax collections.
Oregon, Statesman Journal, 8-2-09:
Governor Ted Kulongoski: Recovery Act Money And Resultant Projects Dramatically Aided Many Facets Of Oregon Affected By Downturn, From K-12 To Transportation. "In February, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to inject billions of dollars into local economies across the country immediately, and to invest billions more over the next two years as part of a sustained economic recovery strategy. In Oregon, where our unemployment rate ranks among the nation's highest, and our state revenues declined by more than $4 billion in a matter of months, the Recovery Act dollars could not have come at a more critical time. As a result of Recovery Act funding for education, human services and public safety, the state was able to preserve many of these critical services that would otherwise have been cut deeper or eliminated altogether. For example, the Recovery Act provided critical funding for K-12 education during the next two school years. Without that assistance, we would have faced a potential cut of 20 days from the school year, which is not only harmful to our children, but would also mean 20 lost days of work for teachers in Oregon's 198 school districts. The Recovery Act also immediately allocated millions to Oregon for transportation, and we were the first state to have projects identified and contracts awarded, creating jobs immediately and making much-needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure. The state has awarded Recovery Act grants for upgrading drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities around the state, and contracts are starting to be signed for weatherizing the homes of low-income Oregonians — all investments that will sustain and create jobs while also improving our quality of life. And I expect the first wave of energy grants to be announced any day to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state."
Texas, El Paso Times, 8/2/09:
More Than 2,800 Young People In El Paso Gained Summer Employment Through ARRA Awards To Local Employment And Educational Institutions. "Part of the stimulus package passed by Congress in February is providing summer jobs for more than 2,800 El Paso youths and valuable training that could lead the participants to worthwhile careers, organizers say. The programs, being conducted at El Paso Community College, the University of Texas at El Paso and La Fe, are part of Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande's summer youth program, an annual effort. But more than $1.1 million in stimulus money has allowed the agency to expand the scope of the summer jobs program. The areas of study include computers, engineering and health sciences. Participants in the summer jobs program ranged in age from 14 to 24. More than 2,800 youth were certified in the Summer Youth Program in the six-county region served by Upper Rio Grande. Upper Rio Grande pays the students and pays for equipment, which the schools provide the instruction. Thursday, more than 20 students, ages 14 to 17, were installing new software on computers they had built themselves at El Paso Community College Valle Verde Campus. A total of 44 students selected by Upper Rio Grande are learning computer skills in an eight-week program, which instructors said will give them the knowledge and skills to take the A-plus certification examination for entry-level computer technicians."
Washington, Seattle Times, 8-2-09:
Approximately 7,000 Washington Homes Will Be Weatherized Using ARRA Funds. "Five months after congressional approval, about $23 million in federal weatherization money is finally flowing across the state, putting theoretical plans for economic stimulus into elbow-grease practice. The goal is multipronged: Make low-income homes more energy-efficient, provide and retain ‘green’ jobs and help resuscitate a gasping economy. When the second wave of federal money arrives next year, almost $60 million in weatherization money will have been spread around Washington. State weatherization director Steve Payne expects about 7,000 dwellings will be updated. Two weeks ago, the state Commerce Department, where he works as managing director of Housing Improvements and Preservation, began authorizing 26 housing agencies around the state to manage local work. Seattle's weatherization program, called HomeWise and operated by the city Office of Housing, is receiving about $2.4 million in stimulus money this year. That extra money about doubles what the agency usually spends on weatherization annually. The HomeWise staff estimates the new money will help make an additional 1,000 homes more energy-efficient. The King County Housing Authority will receive about $2.6 million in stimulus money for weatherization this year, while Snohomish County will get $1.4 million."
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