Monday, February 16, 2009

HOUSE PASSES ECONOMIC RECOVERY PACKAGE Senate Also Expected to Pass Historic Legislation That Will Create Over 3.5 Million Jobs Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz (TX-27) joined the majority of the House of Representatives in passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This historic piece of legislation will save and create jobs, get the nation's economy moving again, and transform it for long-term growth and stability.

The bill appropriates funding for transportation and infrastructure upgrades and construction, health care programs, education assistance, housing assistance and energy efficiency upgrades, and provides $326 billion in personal and business tax breaks and tax provisions affecting payments to the states - for total of $789 billion in spending and tax cuts.

"America faces the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. As a result, 3.6 million American jobs have been lost," said Congressman Ortiz. "Americans are losing their homes and businesses, their jobs, their health care and their savings. This bill is expected to create 3.5 million jobs, 269,000 of those jobs will be here in Texas."

An historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and ensure that Americans can see the results of their investment. There are no earmarks or pet projects.

All announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations must be posted a website accessible to the public. Governors, mayors, or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. All this information will also be placed on a new website, .

"There is no doubt that our state and our communities will benefit from this recovery package's projects and initiatives. I look forward to working with our state and local officials on advocating for funding that will put our people to work."

Among other important provisions, the agreement will:

* Assist state and local governments who face budget shortfalls due to the struggling economy.

* Apropriate $64 billion for highway, mass transit, environmental, waterway, bridge and road projects, and would generally be distributed by the Transportation Department's funding formulas. Through the legislation, the Texas Department of Transportation will receive 55% of the funds and the rest will be allocated to metropolitan planning organizations. Additionally, the City of Corpus Christi will receive $9.5 million in highway infrastructure funds designated for large urbanized areas with populations greater than 200,000.

* Increase the amount of grants and tax credits for college students, modernize school buildings, and fund academic programs that allow students meet state education requirements.

* Help the 711,000 Texans who lost their jobs maintain their health coverage and extend unemployment benefits.

* Immediately cut taxes for 95% of workers, including over 8.1 million low- and middle-income Texans.

* Incentivize small businesses with tax credits to create job creation, spur investments.

* Modernize health care system to lower costs and save lives and assist many who have lost their jobs in this recession continue their health coverage with continuing benefits.

The Senate is expected to pass the measure tonight, which then be signed by the President.

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