As early as tomorrow the $789-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 may be passed, leading to positive changes for Minnesotans and U.S. citizens nationwide (or not, depending on the perspective – added 2/14 1:15 p.m.). Today, I am calling up Northfield’s representatives and political experts to talk about how the act could directly influence our lives.
Congressman Jim Oberstar, who represents Minnesota’s eighth district, wrote about what the act could mean for the state on Tuesday in the Duluth News Tribune saying, “I want to see that bill on President Obama’s desk to be signed into law by Monday, Presidents Day. By June, that final stroke of the president’s pen will have men and women going to work building and maintaining roads and bridges, upgrading schools and modernizing public buildings.”
“In Minnesota, the department of transportation has a backlog of 200 shovel-ready road and bridge projects. This legislation will speed $477 million to the state to start work on those projects, creating nearly 17,000 jobs.”
“A recent economic analysis by Moody’s concluded that the recovery bill could put a total of 91,000 Minnesotans to work by 2010, holding the state’s unemployment rate down by nearly 2 percent.”
Not everyone in Minnesota seems as optimistic as Oberstar, however. The Austin Post-Bulletin ran a story on Jan. 30 that questioned whether the act could actually lead to less funding for public schools.
“Fourteen area superintendents met with 1st District Rep. Tim Walz on Thursday to talk about the proposed “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” commonly referred to as the stimulus package. The education leaders were aware that the estimates are long from final.
Dover-Eyota Superintendent Bruce Klaehn said several people are worried that the Legislature will decrease education funding once the federal money is awarded.”
On the matter of federal funding of public schools, an article in the Sillwater Gazette offered a different perspective on Feb. 5.
“Buried in the $819 billion stimulus package approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week is an estimated $2.75 million for special education programs and construction projects in District 834.
If the stimulus package is also approved by the U.S. Senate, local school officials said the additional federal funds would help the district absorb any budget shocks at the state level, where money remains tight.”