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February 12, 2009 Legislative Update 

Conference Agrees on Final Economic Recovery Bill

Although the official conference report for the national economic recovery legislation is not yet available, an unofficial summary obtained from Speaker Pelosi's office indicates that $500 million for vocational rehabilitation remains in the final bill.  The summary does not mention funding for independent living, an item that did appear in both the House and Senate-passed measures.  According to the Pelosi document, special education would receive $12.2 billion from the stimulus package.

Other provisions that remain in the package, according to the unofficial summary, include:

Key features:
Creates or saves 3.5 million jobs.
Makes America more energy independent.
Gives 95 percent of American workers an immediate tax cut.
Invests in roads, bridges, mass transit, energy efficient buildings, flood control, clean water projects and other infrastructure needs.

  • As part of the energy efficiency effort, provides $5 billion for modest income families to weatherize homes.
  • $6.3 billion through HUD for making low income housing energy efficient - this includes housing for the elderly, disabled and Section 8.
  • $8.5 billion for National Institutes of Health for research and jobs in the fields of Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease.
  • To reduce health care costs and make health care systems more efficient, there is $19 billion for the development of health information technology - electronic medical records is one element - to increase patient information privacy, reduce medical mistakes, create high tech jobs, etc.
  • Medicaid:  $87 billion over two years in matching funds to states, to help states avoid cutting benefits and eligibility in time of budget shortfalls.
  • For unemployed workers, a 60% subsidy of COBRA insurance for up to 9 months, to help unemployed workers keep their health insurance.
  • $1 billion to invest in health through prevention and wellness programs.
  • Provides over $40 billion to states to prevent teacher layoffs, and provides other funds to education.
  • Raises the PELL grant by $500, for a maximum of $5,350 in 2009 and $5.550 in 2010.
  • $200 million for college work study.
  • $12.2 billion for IDEA.
  • $29 billion for roads and bridges, for “shovel-ready” projects.
  • $8.4 billion for public transit and $8 billion for investments in high speed rail.  The aid is for capital, not operating costs.  It can be used to purchase transit vehicles, build or modernize transit facilities (and may be usable for preventive maintenance on vehicles).
  • “Make Work Pay Refundable Tax Credit” will provide up to a $400 refundable tax credit to individual workers and up to $800 for a couple, with the credit phasing out entirely for individuals making over $100,000 and couples making over $200,000.  For individuals, the credit would begin to reduce for persons making over $70,000 a year.
  • Expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Protects some middle class families from the adverse effects of the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Removes the repayment requirement in the existing tax credit for first-time home buyers.
  • Provides a tax deduction for state and local taxes paid on purchase of new vehicles.
  • Temporarily suspends taxation of some unemployment benefits.
  • Provides a number of business tax incentives.
  • Provides varied tax provisions and incentives for energy savings and creation of green jobs.
  • Extends a production tax credit for electricity derived from wind, biofuels, hydropower, etc,
  • Invests in renewable energy facilities.
  • Provides 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits (through December 2009).
  • Increases unemployment checks by $25 a week for some persons.
  • Increases food stamp amounts to individuals and provides some other food aid, including $100 million to elderly nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels.
  • Provides $4 billion for job training.
  • $500 million for vocational rehabilitation.
  • $500 million to state employment service agencies to match individuals to jobs.
  • $120 million to provide community service jobs to low-income elderly individuals.
  • Housing assistance including $2 billion for purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed-on housing, and $1.5 billion for emergency shelter grants to provide short-term rental assistance for families in economic distress.
  • Provides a $250 payment to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and veterans receiving disability compensation from the VA.
  • Extends Trade Adjustment Assistance payments to 160,000 new workers who lose their jobs when factories move overseas.

Go here for the summary document in PDF - the only version available: