Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rep. Velázquez Hails Passage of Economic Recovery Bill

Measure Will Create Jobs, Bring Relief for New York City Families

Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” to create or save 215,000 jobs in New York State, including 8,400 in the 12th Congressional District alone. The comprehensive legislation makes investments in urban areas that will strengthen public housing, mass transit, education, and provide other important resources for New York City’s hard-working families. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) hailed the funding and tax cut package as the best way to get people back to work while investing in the long-term health of the City.

“We need this economic recovery package to stop the cycle of job loss that has crippled New York City and the entire nation. Only if we get people back to work and help them afford their basic needs, will spending start up again and our economy begin to recover,” said Velázquez.

Infrastructure projects and other targeted spending will get New Yorkers back to work and jumpstart the economy. The State is expected to receive $2.7 billion to fund public schools, $1 billion for highway construction projects, $1.3 billion for mass transit, and $403 million to help seniors and families reduce energy bills by weatherizing their homes. In New York City, the public housing authority can expect $390 million to modernize and improve the safety of its buildings. In addition, 95 percent of workers and their families – totaling 7.1 million people in New York State – will be eligible for a tax cut of up to $800. The extra money will show up immediately in workers’ paychecks.

“This bill provides a major investment in New York City – from renovating public housing buildings to making sure our schools are equipped with 21st Century technology,” said Velázquez. “We are focused on creating a bright future for our children, and putting New Yorkers to work now making the improvements.”

With New York City’s unemployment rate above 7 percent, the recovery package also takes steps to help out-of-work New Yorkers make ends meet as they search for a new job. The legislation expands unemployment benefits, and helps the recently unemployed maintain health care coverage that was offered by their last employer. To feed the hungry, the bill increases food stamp benefits by more than 13 percent.

“Our workers and small business owners are the ones who can lift us out of this downturn. By supporting their hard work and innovative ideas, we will get things moving again and see our communities thrive,” said Velázquez.

As Chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, the Congresswoman worked to ensure the bill gives small firms access to affordable credit and new capital. The Small Business Administration will provide guarantees on new loans and refinance past loans to make payments more affordable for business owners. In addition, tax credits will help ease the burden on entrepreneurs and allow them to meet payroll, stock their shelves and expand their businesses.