D.C. Area Stimulus Numbers Cheered
Friday, February 13, 2009
The economic stimulus bill facing key votes in Congress would provide enough money to modernize more than 300 schools in the District, Maryland and Virginia and would boost unemployment benefits to more than half a million people in those jurisdictions hurt by the recession, according to White House projections released yesterday.
The nearly $790 billion measure is expected to provide a windfall for road repairs, energy projects, education and hospitals. Information began to trickle out yesterday about its impact on the Washington area as officials await the release of additional details.
The region would benefit not only from new education, transportation, Medicaid and other funds provided to all states, but also from an extra jolt of money for repairing government buildings and helping federal institutions, officials said.
The Obama administration predicted that the bill would create or save 66,000 jobs in the next two years in Maryland, 12,000 in the District and 93,000 in Virginia. Some economists said the administration's figures appeared too high, however, and others cautioned that it was difficult to predict exactly how the stimulus package would translate into jobs.
"The numbers, as we understand them, are very positive for Maryland," said Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). "There appears to be a good variety of funds that will provide flexibility to shore up shortfalls in our general fund and provide strategic investments in transportation and education."
Indeed, Maryland is expected to receive $420 million to fix highways and bridges, $240 million to improve public transit, $27 million for drinking water projects and $96 million for wastewater projects, according to figures from the Senate Appropriations Committee provided by the office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.).
Maryland will get about $814 million to curb teacher layoffs and other education cutbacks, according to calculations provided yesterday by Mikulski's office.
O'Malley submitted a budget proposal to the General Assembly last month that sought to close a $2 billion shortfall in the state's $14 billion general fund through cost-saving measures that include freezing many agency budgets and laying off 700 state workers. Aides said the governor will present a supplemental budget in coming weeks that accounts for the funds from the stimulus package. It is too early to know which cuts will be avoided, however.
The stimulus bill would generate enough money to modernize at least 138 schools in Maryland and would provide an additional $100 a month in unemployment insurance benefits to 242,000 people who have lost their jobs in this recession, the White House said.
In the District, Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said he hadn't seen the final numbers in the House-Senate compromise reached on the legislation.
"However, we know that the stimulus package will likely provide significant budget relief to the District and will be of great assistance to our residents and many of our businesses and institutions," he said.
The District is facing a $456 million hole in its budget for fiscal 2010. It would receive enough stimulus funds to modernize at least 34 schools, and about 36,000 District residents who have recently lost jobs would see a $100 bump in their monthly unemployment checks, the White House said.