The Recovery Act Blog
- Posted byon July 2, 2009 at 2:20 PM ESTThis week, the Vice President announced a $4.7 billion program to develop and improve high-speed Internet access to rural areas. This is just one of many exciting projects funded by the Recovery Act that are helping to rebuild our communities and lead us into a more prosperous future. Read about some of the Recovery projects across the country being talked about this week:
National, Associated Press, 7/1/09:"Vice President Joe Biden outlined a $4.7 billion loan and grant program Wednesday to develop the infrastructure needed to deliver broadband, or high-speed, Internet access to areas that are underserved or without access. America lags behind more than a dozen other countries in terms of Internet access and that has to change, Biden told about 200 people at Seneca High School, about 12 miles east of Erie. ‘The bottom line is, you can't function — a nation can't compete in the 21st century — without an immediate, high-quality access for everything from streaming video to information overline,’ Biden said. While Seneca has broadband Internet access, Biden said many students do not have access at home. Providing the means for access would improve educational opportunities, he said. He also spoke of the power of the Internet to create jobs in rural America. ‘We believe we are in the process of transforming rural America ... so it's integrated with the country, without losing its character,’ he said. The program also covers inner-city areas without broadband access. ‘Getting broadband to every American is a priority for this administration,’ Biden said. The $4.7 billion is part of $7.2 billion included in the federal stimulus package to improve rural Internet access.""When built, HECA will bring clean power to over 150,000 homes in the local community, create new jobs and avoid the emissions of more than two million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. ‘California is a leader when it comes to innovation and clean technology, so it makes perfect sense that a hydrogen energy project be built here. This project is a fantastic use of Recovery Act dollars because it will not only create green collar construction jobs, but it will avoid greenhouse gas emissions and further propel us toward a clean energy future. The Schwarzenegger Administration has been working to get California’s fair share of federal stimulus funding and getting it out the door and into California’s economy as quickly and effectively as possible, and this project is a prime example of federal Recovery Act action in California.’ The HECA project is an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plant that will take petroleum coke, biomas, coal or blends of each, combined with non-potable water to convert them into hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). The hydrogen gas will be used to fuel a net 250-megawatt power station that will provide new, clean electric power to 150,000 homes in the local community. The CO2 will be transported by pipeline to nearby oil reservoirs and injected for permanent storage which will enhance U.S. energy security and enable additional production from existing California oilfields. HECA will also boost the local economy. Hydrogen Energy International estimates that the project will create up to 1,500 construction jobs and up to 100 permanent green collar jobs.""Central Florida community health centers received almost $6 million in federal grants this week to repair facilities, buy new equipment and implement electronic medical record-keeping. The grants come at an especially pressing time for these community centers, which have experienced increased use by area residents but decreased funding. At the Health Care Center for the Homeless — one of six Central Florida grant recipients — fundraising was down 40 percent from last year, while demand for services had increased by 28 percent. ‘Prior to receiving this, we were planning on reducing work staff,’ said Bakari Burns, executive officer. ‘The grant is almost like a godsend.’ On Monday, first lady Michelle Obama announced the disbursement of $851 million of the $2 billion promised to community health centers across the country as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.""YouthBuild Louisville will receive $699,000 in federal economic-stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help provide vocational instruction to unemployed and undereducated Louisville youth, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-3rd District, has announced. ‘The funds will go a long way toward providing a valuable education and training to Louisville youths who may not have otherwise had opportunities in this economy,’ Yarmuth said. YouthBuild works with numerous other agencies on job training for those aged 16 to 24, including Jefferson Community and Technical College, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Metro Government, the Metro Housing Authority, KentuckianaWorks and the Home Builders Association of Louisville. In the YouthBuild program participants learn the craft of constructing and rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income families in their own neighborhoods.""Local schools will benefit from zero- or low-interest bonds for construction, established as part of the federal stimulus package. Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools and Edgecombe County Public Schools both have been allotted funds from the 2009 Qualified School Construction Bonds program. The program offers funds for the specific use of new construction, school rehabilitation or repair and land acquisition in conjunction with those projects. The state was issued $275,772,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to disperse to schools. Edgecombe Count schools were allocated $1,576,307.06. Nash-Rocky Mount schools were allocated $2,391,375.55. In Nash-Rocky Mount schools, the money potentially could be used for two upcoming construction projects, Special Assistant for Auxiliary Services Mark Strickland said. He said that the people selling bonds will receive a tax credit in lieu of the interest money they’d typically receive. A zero-interest bond would be a ‘win-win’ for the district, Strickland said. ‘It would just mean that we wouldn’t have to pay any interest, we’d just have to pay back the principal,’ Strickland said. ‘In the end, there could be significant cost savings.’""Governor Phil Bredesen is extending unemployment benefits with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Tennessee Extended Benefits Program adds a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits for claimants who exhausted their emergency unemployment compensation benefits on or after February 28, 2009. Unemployed Tennesseans who believe they may be eligible for state extended benefits can file online by accessing the department's Web site. The extended benefit application will be available online beginning July 15, 2009. The extended benefit program ends on December 26, 2009."
- Posted byon June 26, 2009 at 5:30 PM ESTThose of us here over at DOT want to set the record straight when it comes to whether or not Recovery Act money is getting out to states and putting people back to work. There are reports in the press, specifically in Thursday’s USA Today, that say only a fraction of stimulus dollars dedicated for construction projects is reaching states. This simply isn’t true.So far all 50 states and the territories have obligated or dedicated $16 billion dollars of their highway stimulus money to over 5,000 construction projects. Of those projects, over 1,500 of them are underway – bids are being made, equipment and supplies are being purchased, contractors are hiring and workers are working.The USA Today story said states have only received "$132 million from the stimulus package out of $27.5 billion earmarked for road construction funding." This is false and shows a misunderstanding of the way states get federal money for highway projects. Let me explain.We fund highway projects through a reimbursement process, meaning states send us bills for highway work as it’s getting done. For example let’s say Virginia obligated or dedicated $200,000 of its Recovery dollars to resurface several miles of a road. Once Virginia awards a bid and the work gets underway the contractor will send the state a bill periodically for the work as it progresses. The state pays the bill then turns to us for reimbursement (which in government speak is referred to as an outlay) – in many cases they get the funds the same day.This might sound like a funny way of doing business and we get lots of reporters who ask "why not just cut the state a check for the amount of money it will take to get the job done?" To do that would be a huge waste of taxpayer money! What if that $200,000 road resurfacing job wound up coming in under budget by $50,000? Our rigorous system of reimbursement protects taxpayer dollars because we can watch the money that is being spent. If money is wasted, the states won’t get reimbursed by us.The $132 million figure mentioned in USA Today is an inaccurate total of how much we’ve reimbursed states for Recovery funded construction projects – our reimbursements are higher than that. But relying on those figures in no way accurately describes what is happening out in the states.Whenever a state obligates or dedicates their Recovery dollars to a project that means it is green-lighted. States can start advertising the project and soliciting bids and once a bid is awarded contractors can buy supplies, bring workers on board and start breaking ground. It could be weeks before the reimbursement process starts so those outlays are in no way an indicator of how much money is getting to states, how much work is being done or how many people are working.The $16 billion obligated to thousands of highway projects is the true measure of how much highway money is reaching states. There is still a lot of hard work left to do, but we here at DOT are incredibly proud of how fast, efficiently and transparently Recovery dollars are getting out the door.John D. Porcari is the Deputy Secretary of Transportation. As Deputy Secretary, Porcari serves as the Department’s chief operating officer with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of 10 modal administrations and the work of more than 55,000 DOT employees nationwide and overseas.
- Posted byon June 26, 2009 at 12:09 PM ESTYesterday the Vice President expressed his pride that all 55 states and territories have already obligated half of their highway funding, an achievement sure to benefit the nation's economy. But judging by the stories submitted to Whitehouse.gov/recovery/share/, another achievement of the Recovery Act — providing summer jobs for America’s youth — is touching families even more directly.From Streamwood, Illinois, Jessie reported that the Recovery Act provided summer employment for his two children, and from Louisville, Mississippi, Angela shared that her 19 and 17 year olds found summer jobs created by the Recovery Act. From Oklahoma City, Kyle explained how the Recovery Act has helped foster youth:I work with foster youth who are about to exit state custody. These young people, historically, have a harder time finding a job, maintaining stable housing and graduating from high school. As the job market worsens, so do their outcomes. Recently, however, a push to employ foster youth using recovery dollars has made a big difference. Our local Workforce Board in OKC has found employment for nearly all the youth we refer. The jobs go beyond fast food and retail. Youth are able to get into their interested fields.Throughout the summer, the White House will continue to gather stories like these from the public to publicize the results of the Recovery Act. To share your story, go to Whitehouse.gov/recovery/share/.
- Posted byon June 11, 2009 at 4:09 PM ESTThe Vice President is getting out of Washington and traveling to communities across the country to get a few snapshots of how the Recovery Act is creating jobs and improving the nation’s infrastructure. He kicked off his "Road to Recovery" tour this morning in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, at the groundbreaking for the Route 34 bridge project.
The Vice President first visited the 80-year-old bridge in February, a week before the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed. Now, the worn out bridge is being replaced thanks to a $1.7 million Recovery Act contract, which will not only provide jobs to Pennsylvanians, but also help ensure the safety of the thousands of people who travel on the bridge daily. This project is just one of over 4,000 transportation projects to launch since the Recovery Act was passed. The Vice President stressed that these much-needed infrastructure improvements will build the foundation for an improved transportation system in America:But I would also point out we're building a foundation for a new transportation system in America that's upgraded, allowing businesses and communities to be competitive again, and making people safer.
So that's a byproduct we never talk about. You guys in the hardhats out there do this every day, and put these roads back together and bridges back together and construct the airports. It's not merely about the job, which is the ultimate purpose for this legislation -- the primary purpose, I should say -- but it's building a whole new foundation, for a crumbling infrastructure that has gone unattended for a long time…
In fact, these investments will not only help us bounce back in the short term by providing jobs, but will also help us in the long term to become leaders in the 21st century:Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be in a tough slog for awhile. But the truth is -- the truth of the matter is that we're going to bounce back. And when we bounce back, we're going to be stronger, better prepared, more efficient, and more competitive than any time we have been in our history. And we are going to once again lead the 21st century like we did the 20th. But you can't do it without a new energy plan. You can't do it without a new infrastructure. You can't do it without a revitalized education system. And you can't do it without a health care system that's not draining us every single day.The Vice President was joined at the groundbreaking by Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Arlen Specter, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Governor Rendell talked about the real impact the bridge project will have on the lives of local Pennsylvanians, noting that some members of the building crew had been previously laid off.
Later in the day, the Vice President, along with Secretary Sebelius and Secretary LaHood, traveled to his next stop on the "Road to Recovery" tour -- Overland Park, Kansas, for the groundbreaking of the US Highway 69 project. The $76 million in Recovery Act funds will help reconstruct the major highway, improving traffic flow, shortening commute times and increasing access to major employment centersThe Vice President reiterated that these projects are a down-payment on the country’s future:The impact of this project starting today goes well beyond the shovels we’re putting into the ground - it’s about staying competitive in the 21st century. By widening and rebuilding Highway 69, it will be easier and cheaper for the entire Kansas City area to do business, not just today, not just tomorrow, but for decades.
- Posted byon June 8, 2009 at 2:19 PM ESTThe President and Vice President met with Cabinet officials today to discuss the wide-ranging effects of the Recovery Act, as well as an ambitious plan announced by the Vice President this morning to accelerate efforts for the next 100 days called the Roadmap to Recovery. In remarks before the meeting, the Vice President called these projects ambitious but realistic:A couple weeks ago, I asked the Cabinet members to give me a list of new projects that they were absolutely certain of they could get up and running in the second hundred days that would build momentum and accelerate the job growth in the next hundred days.And they each came back with new projects. The 10 most significant of those projects, Mr. President, we've put in this book that we're going to give you -- it's called "Roadmap to Recovery"Some of these projects include creating and building 1,129 health care facilities, improving veterans’ medical centers across the country, putting 5,500 law enforcement officers on the streets, and creating 135,000 education jobs. In total, the Vice President said 600,000 jobs will be created in the next 100 days.In May, we lost 345,000 jobs, which marks the smallest monthly job loss since September but which nonetheless represents 345,000 terrible stories. Therefore, the Administration is boosting recovery efforts to build on the progress we’ve already made. The President emphasized that although we have a long way to go, the American people are already seeing progress:Now I know that there are some who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still don't believe in the necessity and promise of this Recovery Act, and I would suggest to them that they talk to the companies who, because of this plan, scrapped the idea of laying off employees and in fact decided to hire employees. Tell that to the Americans who receive that unexpected call saying, come back to work. Tell it to the Americans poised to benefit from critical investments that this plan makes in our long-term growth and prosperity.In the end, that's the only measure of progress, is whether or not the American people are seeing some progress in their own lives. And so although we've seen some stabilizing in the financial markets and credit spreads have gone down, we're seeing a reduction in the fear that gripped the market just a few months ago, stock market is up a little bit -- all that stuff is not our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is making sure that the average family out there -- mom working, dad working -- that they are able to pay their bills, feel some job security, make their mortgage payments; the small business owner there is starting to see customers coming back in, they can make payroll, they can even think about hiring a little bit more and expanding. That's the measure, how ordinary families are helping to rebuild America once more.In the first 100 days, the Recovery Act provided immediate relief with a tax break for 95 percent of Americans, expanded unemployment insurance and food assistance programs, and launched more than 4,000 infrastructure improvement projects, which will continue to create jobs in the next 100 days. The Recovery Act has also provided record investments in new technologies, which will lay the foundation for the future economy. We are now going in the right direction, and this summer we will go down that road even faster.
- Posted byon June 8, 2009 at 10:00 AM ESTIt’s been a little over 100 days since the Recovery Act was signed by the President. We’ve come a long way –- we’ve created or saved over 150,000 jobs, cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, and made funds available for over 4,000 transportation projects. But while we’ve made progress, we still have a lot more work to do on this road to recovery.To accelerate our recovery efforts, the Vice President announced the Roadmap to Recovery, ten major projects that will keep more teachers in the classroom, put more cops on our streets, and give more people access to healthcare over the next 100 days.Viewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.As the Vice President says, "It’s going to be a busy summer!" We’ll be revving up the recovery engine getting more dollars out the door and more money into the pockets of working families who need it most. And most importantly, by the end of the summer, we’ll have created or saved another 600,000 American jobs.Along the way, we’ll be telling the stories of recovery in your community. Share your photos, videos or comments about recovery projects happening in your neighborhood. We’ll be highlighting some of your submissions here on the Recovery blog.While WhiteHouse.gov/Recovery will be the place where our story of Recovery is told, you can always go to Recovery.gov to make sure your recovery dollars are going where they should: jobs, jobs, jobs.
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