Immediately following President Barack Obama's signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently convened a roundtable meeting with several mayors and city administrators in her district, including Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, and Lawndale, to discuss strategies for them,to get a head start on maximizing the benefits they may be entitled to receive following the passage of this 'stimulus package' which will pump billions of dollars into the State of California.
"The economic recovery package that we passed will put people back to work, stimulate our economy, rebuild our infrastructure and invest in our long-term growth through education, innovation and clean energy." Waters said.
"In addition," she added, "we are giving immediate help to those most in need by extending unemployment benefits, offering training opportunities for good jobs, and providing food stamps for families."
Waters explained that President Obama, as well as she and her Congressional colleagues, were able to get this stimulus pachage done, with considerable and often-spirited negotiations between the Democratic and Republican leadership, just three weeks after the president's inauguration because the majority recognize the importance of taking bold and quick action to put our nation on the road to recovery.
"This legislation also includes one of the largest tax cuts in history," Waters explained, with a progressive tax cut targeted at middle class and working families that will benefit 95% of American workers.
The purpose of the roundtable meeting was not only to convey the national impact on the stimulus package but also to explain the enormous impact the recovery package will make within her congressional district, particularly for those capital projects that are ready to launch.
"I invited the mayors to discuss the priorities of our communities and what projects are ready to benefit as federal dollars from the stimulus bill go to work in our district." Waters explained. "I am going to be working closely with leaders throughout the 35th Congressional District to make sure that eligible entities know about the funding they can apply for and to make sure that my constituents can utilize all the resources in this bill," she said.
To ensure that the bureaucracy does not bog-down the progress individual cities may experience in applying for and receiving funds from the stimulus package, Waters committed to establishing a point of contact person in her office with whom the cities may liase, in order to move their funding requests along smoothly and within the prescribed guidelines.
"This legislation will create or save 7,300 jobs here in the 35th Congressional District and almost 400,000 jobs in the entire state over the next two years according to the White House." Waters described. "At a time when unemployment in California has climbed to 9.3% -- among the highest rates in the nation - and a staggering 3.6 million American jobs were lost in the last 13 months, this recovery package is urgently needed."
Also according to White House reports, the stimulus package will infuse tens of billions of dollars into California and save nearly 400,000 jobs in the state and, off the total $787 billion in federal funding, California Senator Barbara Boxer estimates that California will receive at least $78 billion of stimulus over the next two years.
The actual amount of funds that each city and state will receive is based on a combination of factors including priority, urgency, project readiness, competitive evaluation, and other factors.
Waters made it clear however, that she and her staff in Washington and in her local field offices will work closely with municipal managers to maximize their effectiveness in realizing actual fund awards. She also announced that the public will be able to monitor how funds are spent at a new web site www.recovery.gov.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was designed with several objectives.
It will provide a Making Work Pay tax cut of up to $800 for 12,420,000 California workers and their families, designed to start paying out immediately into workers' paychecks, as well as tax cuts to spur businesses large and small. It will transform our economy with clean, efficient, American energy and innovation and technology that will create more than 1 million jobs nationwide.
Another objective is to lower healthcare costs and modernize roads and bridges that will create jobs with an extra $2.6 billion in California. In addition, the package will address high-speed rail infrastructure and promote education for the 21st Century by modernizing schools and making college more affordable with improved Pell Grants and a higher education tax credit for 522,000 students in our state.
The Recovery Act is aimed at helping workers hurt by the economy, including 1,731,800 Californians that are out of work, those who have lost their health care, and seniors. Finally, the Act is intended to save the jobs of teachers, police officers, health care workers, and protecting the vital services they provide.
"It will take time to turn this economy around, but I am confident that this package will make our economy stronger and more resilient." Waters concluded. "Americans have always come together in the face of challenges and we will once again, with the swift and bold leadership of President Obama."