Magazine article Policy & Practice

Washington Update

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Washington Update

Article excerpt

Stimulus Legislation Heads For Implementation

On Feb. 17, President Obama signed into law a much-debated and historically unprecedented piece of legislation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009. The bill's final version totaled $787 billion, down from the $819 billion passed by the House in January following a 244-188 party-line vote. The final version is also less than the initial $838 billion originally considered by the Senate, which passed its own stimulus package with support from three Republicans. The final legislation represents months of bicameral and bipartisan negotiation to reconcile the provisions in the two versions. Of the final $787 billion total, the package includes $288 billion in tax relief, $144 billion for state and local fiscal relief, $59 billion for health care, and $53 billion for education and training.

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Now that the bill is law, the next concern is implementation and management of the spending. Some of the stimulus funds will flow to states in the form of discretionary block grants, which they can use to plug budget holes. However, much of the state fiscal relief is mandatory funding for specific purposes under a limited time frame. The targeted nature of some of the stimulus funding means that some of the money has to go to projects not included in state budgets. Some governors are considering rejecting stimulus money out of concerns about tight restrictions and lack of sustainability of projects funded with temporary stimulus money.

The Office of Management and Budget has issued a memo to federal agencies regarding spending and implementation of ARRA funds, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-10.pdf. Current information about stimulus spending can be found at http://www.recovery.gov

APHSA Applauds Signing Of Stimulus Bill

On Feb. 17, the American Public Human Services Association issued a news release congratulating the president upon signing H.R. 1, the ARRA. APHSA highlighted the inclusion of temporary funding for health and human services programs, including:

* $87 billion for state Medicaid pro grams through a temporary increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages for states;

* A new $5 billion emergency contingency fund for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families pro gram, designed to help states cover costs incurred by rising caseloads;

* An increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for low-income families and an additional $295 million in state administrative funds over two years; and

* A temporary increase of 6. …

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