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D.C. Area Stimulus Numbers Cheered
Top Virginia officials were scurrying yesterday to figure out how the plan would translate into dollars in their communities.
"We don't know the specifics," said Gordon Hickey, spokesman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). "We don't know any of the strings, basically. We don't know the rules" on spending the money.
Virginia has a budget shortfall of at least $2.9 billion, and Hickey said the state has $3 billion worth of transportation projects that have been put on hold "because we don't have the money." More than $1 billion worth of transportation projects are ready to go within 90 days, he said.
The stimulus bill would provide enough funds to refurbish at least 165 schools in Virginia and would increase unemployment benefits to 247,000 people laid off during the recession, officials said.
Numerous federal institutions in the D.C. area also would get money from the package, officials said.
For example, the bill provides $580 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including $90 million for construction at its Gaithersburg headquarters, Mikulski's office said.
The legislation would also award $1 billion to NASA. It was not clear exactly how that would be spent, but the agency has a major facility, the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Prince George's County.
Also, $10 billion dollars would go to the National Institutes of Health. Spokesman John Burklow said that, if the money is approved, some would be spent on repairs and construction at the Bethesda campus. However, "the vast majority of the dollars will go out among the more than 3,000 research institutions around the country" that work with NIH, he said.
The bill would set aside billions for fixing up federal buildings across the country and making them energy-efficient.
"We'll finally catch some advantage out of being a federal city. You have a disproportionate number of federal buildings here, and they're among the oldest" in the country, said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
Norton is seeking to have the bill create apprenticeships for women and minorities to become skilled construction workers.
Staff writers John Wagner and David Nakamura contributed to this report.