This is a follow-up to yesterday’s ‘Stimulus Bill Summary’ letter. As the stimulus bill, entitled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, awaits committee work in Washington, we wanted to update you on a few matters.
First, thanks to all the officials who responded to our December 15, 2008 survey request. The information you provided has been forwarded to Senators Menendez and Lautenberg and to all of our New Jersey Members of the House of Representatives. They will use the information to win for New Jersey the largest possible slice of the total recovery ‘pie.’ The bill WILL NOT include earmarks, so there will be no assurances of funding for specific projects coming from Washington. Instead, the bulk of the infrastructure funding money will go to the state, with, we believe, a requirement that a certain percentage be dedicated to local priorities.
Those of you who responded to the survey have given our delegation the information that they will need to make the case for New Jersey’s needs. At this point, we have no immediate need for further project listings.
Second, we want to highlight some of the specific components of the bill that could provide direct assistance to local governments. These include:
Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants: $6.9 billion to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.
Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions: $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficiency grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments, and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.
Diesel Emissions Reduction: $300 million for grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, benefiting public health and reducing global warming. This includes technologies to retrofit emission exhaust systems on school buses, replace engines and vehicles, and establish anti-idling programs. 70% of the funds go to competitive grants and 30% funds grants to states with approved programs. Last year EPA was able to fund only 27% of the applications received.
Economic Development Assistance: $250 million to address long-term economic distress in urban industrial cores and rural areas distributed based on need and ability to create jobs and attract private investment. EDA leverages $10 in private investments for $1 in federal funds.
Highway Infrastructure: $30 billion for highway and bridge construction projects. It is estimated that states have over 5,100 projects totaling over $64 billion that could be awarded within 180 days. These projects create jobs in the short term while saving commuters time and money in the long term. In 2006, the Department of Transportation estimated $8.5 billion was needed to maintain current systems and $61.4 billion was needed to improve highways and bridges.
Transit: Public transportation saves Americans time and money, saving as much as 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline and reducing carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons each year.
New Construction: $1 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit and to speed projects already in construction. The Federal Transit Administration has $2.4 billion in pre-approved projects.
Upgrades and Repair: $2 billion to modernize existing transit systems, including renovations to stations, security systems, computers, equipment, structures, signals, and communications. Funds will be distributed through the existing formula. The repair backlog is nearly $50 billion.
Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities. The Department of Transportation estimates a $3.2 billion maintenance backlog and $9.2 billion in needed improvements. The American Public Transportation Association identified 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling $15.5 billion. Funds will be distributed through the existing formulas.
Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants: $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service. The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General estimates the North East Corridor alone has a backlog of over $10 billion.
Airport Improvement Grants: $3 billion for airport improvement projects that will improve safety and reduce congestion. An estimated $41 billion in eligible airport infrastructure projects are needed between 2007-2011.
Transportation Security Administration Explosive Detection Systems: $500 million to install Aviation Explosive Detection Systems in the nation’s airports, improving security, and making life easier on travelers by speeding security lines. Funds are competitively awarded based on security risk.
Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $6 billion for loans to help communities upgrade wastewater treatment systems. EPA estimates a $388 billion funding gap. The Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators found that 26 states have $10 billion in approved water projects.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $2 billion for loans for drinking water infrastructure. EPA estimates there is a $274 billion funding gap. The National Governors Association reported that there are $6 billion in ready-to-go projects, which could quickly be obligated.
Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $1.5 billion to support $3.8 billion in grants and loans to help communities fund drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. In 2008, there were $2.4 billion in requests for water and waste loans and $990 million for water and waste grants went unfunded.
Corps of Engineers: $4.5 billion for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure critical to the economy. The Corps has a construction backlog of $61 billion.
Watershed Infrastructure: $400 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed improvement programs to design and build flood protection and water quality projects, repair aging dams, and purchase and restore conservation easements in river flood zones.
Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup: $800 million to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites that threaten health and the environment. EPA has 1,255 sites on its National Priority List, selected based on a hazard ranking system. There are many Superfund sites ready for construction, but not funded due to budget shortfalls and over 600 sites with ongoing construction that could be accelerated.
Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: $200 million for enforcement and cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks at approximately 1,600 additional sites. There are an estimated 116,000 sites with the potential to contaminate important water supplies.
Brownfields: $100 million for competitive grants for evaluation and cleanup of former industrial and commercial sites - turning them from problem properties to productive community use. Last year EPA was only able to fund 37% of Brownfields applications.
Reducing Wildfires Threats: $850 million for hazardous fuels removal and other efforts to prevent wildfires on public lands. Making these investments today will create jobs in the short run, but also save long term costs of fighting fires in the future.
School Construction: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements. Also includes $100 million for school construction in communities that lack a local property tax base because they contain non-taxable federal lands such as military bases or Indian reservations, and $25 million to help charter schools build, obtain, and repair schools.
Education Technology: $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training.
IDEA Special Education: $13 billion for formula grants to increase the federal share of special education costs and prevent these mandatory costs from forcing states to cut other areas of education.
Title I Help for Disadvantaged Kids: $13 billion for grants to help disadvantaged kids in nearly every school district and more than half of all public schools reach high academic standards.
Statewide Data Systems: $250 million for competitive grants to states to design and develop data systems that analyze individual student data to find ways to improve student achievement, providing teachers and administrators with effective tools.
Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $66 million for formula grants to states to provide services to homeless children including meals and transportation when high unemployment and home foreclosures have created an influx of homeless kids.
Head Start: $2.1 billion to provide comprehensive development services to help 110,000 additional children succeed in school. Funds are distributed based on need. Only about half of all eligible preschoolers and less than 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers participate in Head Start.
IDEA Infants and Families: $600 million for formula grants to help states serve children with disabilities age 2 and younger.
Community Health Centers: $1.5 billion, including $500 million to increase the number of uninsured Americans who receive quality healthcare and $1 billion to renovate clinics and make health information technology improvements. More than 400 applications submitted earlier this year for new or expanded CHC sites remain unfunded.
Training and Employment Services: $4 billion for job training including formula grants for adult, dislocated worker, and youth services (including $1.2 billion to create up to one million summer jobs for youth). The needs of workers also will be met through dislocated worker national emergency grants, new competitive grants for worker training in high growth and emerging industry sectors (with priority consideration to “green” jobs and healthcare), and increased funds for the YouthBuild program. Green jobs training will include preparing workers for activities supported by other economic recovery funds, such as retrofitting of buildings, green construction, and the production of renewable electric power.
Employment Services Grants: $500 million to match unemployed individuals to job openings through state employment service agencies and allow states to provide customized services. Funds are targeted to states with the greatest need based on labor force, unemployment, and long-term unemployed rates.
Unemployment Insurance Modernization: Provides funds to states though a “Reed Act” distribution, tied to states’ meeting specific reforms to increase unemployment insurance coverage for low-wage, part-time, and other jobless workers.
Public Housing Capital Fund: $5 billion for building repair and modernization, including critical safety repairs. Every dollar of Capital Fund expenditures produces $2.12 in economic return. $4 billion of the funds will be distributed to public housing authorities through the existing formula and $1 billion will be awarded through a competitive process for projects that improve energy efficiency.
HOME Investment Partnerships: $1.5 billion to help local communities build and rehabilitate low-income housing using green technologies. Thousands of ready-to-go housing projects have been stalled by the credit crunch. Funds are distributed by formula.
Neighborhood Stabilization: $4.2 billion to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight.
Homeless Assistance Grants: $1.5 billion for the Emergency Shelter Grant program to provide short term rental assistance, housing relocation, and stabilization services for families during the economic crisis. Funds are distributed by formula.
Rural Housing Insurance Fund: $500 million to support $22 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees to help rural families and individuals buy homes during the credit crunch. Last year these programs received $13.4 billion more in applications than they could fund.
Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Program: $10 million for rural, high-need areas to undertake projects using sustainable and energy-efficient building and rehabilitation practices. Funds will be awarded by competition to projects that can begin quickly.
Lead Paint: $100 million for competitive grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to remove lead-based paint hazards in low-income housing.
Afterschool Meals: $726 million to increase the number of states that provide free dinners to children and to encourage participation by new institutions by increasing snack reimbursement rates.
Supplemental Nutrition Program Information Systems: $100 million to improve state management information systems for the WIC program.
Community Services Block Grant: $1 billion for grants to local communities to support employment, food, housing, and healthcare efforts serving those hardest hit by the recession. Community action agencies have seen dramatic increases in requests for their assistance due to rising unemployment, housing foreclosures, and high food and fuel prices.
Community Development Block Grants: $1 billion for community and economic development projects including housing and services for those hit hard by tough economic times.
Emergency Food and Shelter: $200 million to help local community organizations provide food, shelter, and support services to the nation’s hungry, homeless, and people in economic crisis including one-month utility payments to prevent service cut-off and one-month rent or mortgage assistance to prevent evictions or help people leave shelters. Funds are distributed by formula based on unemployment and poverty rates.
AmeriCorps Programs: $200 million to put approximately 16,000 additional AmeriCorps members to work doing national service, meeting needs of vulnerable populations and communities during the recession.
State and Local Law Enforcement: $4 billion to support state and local law enforcement including $3 billion for the Byrne Justice Assistance formula grants to support local law enforcement efforts with equipment and operating costs, and $1 billion for the COPS hiring grant program, to hire about 13,000 new police officers for three years. The grantee is responsible for at least 25% in matching funds and must commit to use their own funds to keep the officer on board in the fourth year.
Periodic Census and Programs, Communications: $1 billion for work necessary to ensure a successful 2010 census, including $150 million for expanded communications and outreach programs to minimize undercounting of minority groups.
There is much more in the bill, but we wanted to get this information to you as quickly as possible. We hope you find it useful.
For more information, please contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.