Washington, D.C. - Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) today voted to pass package of new investment in infrastructure, schools, health care and unemployment assistance in an effort to stimulate the flagging economy.
“The crisis on Wall Street rocked the nation this week, but families nationwide have been struggling for months. With the unemployment rate at its highest since 1992, this package is intended to help hardworking Americans get through these tough economic times,” Higgins said.
The package aims to stimulate the economy though investing in our nation’s infrastructure, providing short term benefit by putting people to work and buying goods, but leaving behind long term infrastructure improvements that will benefit Americans for years to come. Specific to Western New York, the package contains $708,495,720 for the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $514,874,828 for Transit (Capital), $130,909,994 for Transit (Energy), and $590,887,773 for highways.
The plan will also ensure that those in need do not go without food by providing $2.6 billion to address rising food costs for seniors, people with disabilities and very poor families with children. Additionally, the plan will ensure that American’s do not lose health coverage by providing a temporary increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid health costs. These funds will prevent cuts to health insurance and health care services for low-income children and families, as well as generate business activities, jobs, wages and State sales tax revenues that States would otherwise not see.
To help prepare Americans for good jobs, the package will invest $500 million for job training and $400 million is for dislocated worker and youth employment activities and $100 million to provide customized help to Americans receiving unemployment benefits. The package will also extend unemployment benefits for the growing number of Americans looking for work by 7 weeks, or 13 weeks in high unemployment states. Extending unemployment benefits is one of the quickest, most cost-effective forms of economic stimulus because workers who have lost their paychecks spend benefits quickly.
Specific funding in the plan includes:
- $12.8 billion for our nations aging highways and bridges, to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion
- $5 billion for the Corps of Engineers to invest in the nation’s water resource infrastructure with improves flood protections, navigation, and hydropower to increase the efficiency of existing water infrastructure.
- $3 billion to repair crumbling schools, provide students with first class technology and to improve energy efficiency
- $7.5 billion for drinking water and sewer projects to repair, rehabilitate, and expand deteriorating water systems
- $3.6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to expand public transportation and improve facilities due to growing demand due to high gas prices
- $1 billion to support $3.3 billion in Advanced Battery Technology loans to encourage the manufacture of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems – a key component to fuel efficient cars - in the United States.
- $500 million to accelerate the development of technologies that will contribute to a reliable, domestic energy supply.
- $100 million to modernize the electric grid, make energy infrastructure more secure and reliable, and speed recovery from disruptions to the energy supply.