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What the Stimulus Bill Really Means for Cities

Jeffrey Hill actually read the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in its entirety— and has good news to report for America’s urban areas.

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While mainstream media outlets have done an excellent job covering the political drama surrounding the passage of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) without actually reading it, take it from someone who has braved all 1,200-plus pages of HR-1: the economic stimulus package contains an abundance of funding figures that should make urban enthusiasts very happy.

Or, take it from U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who is also pleased with the final version of the stimulus package. In January, the Conference released a report asking the federal government for $96.6 billion to fund 15,221 different “shovel-ready” municipal projects. Diaz lauded the bill to press officials following a Feb. 20 speech by Obama to the mayors of the organization. “It’s refreshing for cities to be able to partner with the White House. We have worked on these issues for many, many years, but there’s nothing like having a true partner in the White House that we have today with the president, vice president and an outstanding Cabinet who understands the urban agenda,” he said.

Read the following figures and join myself and Mayor Diaz in disregarding pundits who associate the ARRA with “the end of all things.”

ARRA is set to provide:

$7.22 billion for projects and programs administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote green jobs.

$6 billion to the Clean Water and Drinking Water Fund, $4 billion of which will be used help communities with water quality and waste-water infrastructure needs and $2 billion of which will be spent on drinking water infrastructure needs. $1.2 billion, or 20 percent, must be used for green infrastructure.

$100 million for competitive grants to evaluate and clean up former industrial and commercial brownfields. (Note- This portion of the bill was modified by an unnamed U.S. senator to put “brownfields” in quotes.)

$27.5 billion in road and highway construction funds, which, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will be used to repair infrastructure, not to build new highways. This does not include the $8.4 billion set for investments in public transportation or the $1.5 billion for competitive grants to state and local governments for transportation investments or the $1.3 billion for investments in our air transportation system or the $9.3 billion for investments in rail transportation, including Amtrak, high-speed and intercity rail.

$16.8 billion to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, making ARRA the largest energy bill passed in U.S. history, increasing the department’s funding nearly tenfold. This does not include $400 million to support the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency to support innovative energy research, or the $4.5 billion allocated to the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability for activities to modernize the nation’s electrical grid and implement smart-grid technologies.

$5 billion to the U.S. Weatherization Assistance Program, increasing the eligible income level under the program as well as the funding assistance level to $6,500 per home.

$1 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program for community and economic development projects including housing and services for those hit hard by recession.

$2.25 billion to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to fill financing gaps caused by the credit freeze and kick-start stalled housing development projects. This does not include the $4 billion designated to the public housing capital fund, or the $2 billion set aside for full-year payments to owners receiving Section 8 project-based rental assistance, or the $2 billion for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes, or the $1.5 billion for homeless prevention activities which will be sent out to states or the $250 million is included for energy retrofitting and green investments in HUD-assisted housing projects.

Shall I go on? Or, are you more interested in which governors said they are open to not accepting money from the stimulus package? If you live in South Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, Texas or Mississippi, your governor has publicly stated that in order to mount a partisan political campaign in 2010, they would refuse:

$19 billion, including $2 billion in discretionary funds and $17 billion for investments and incentives through Medicare and Medicaid to ensure interoperable health information technology (IT)

$1 billion for prevention and wellness programs to fight preventable diseases

$10 billion to conduct biomedical research in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stem cells

$1.1 billion to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, NIH and the HHS Office of the Secretary to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different health care services and treatment options

$53.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Education for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to preventing state education cutbacks, prevent layoffs, implement school modernization, provide public safety and other services

$13 billion to the Title 1 program

$12.2 billion for special education

$15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500

$3.95 billion for job training including State formula grants for adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs.

Whew… and there’s more, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow, when I’ll delve into broadband development.

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Tags: jobstransportation spendingmayorshealthcareenergyhudmiamiamtrak

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