Stimulus bill would send billions to California

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 23, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- A new analysis shows that California would get a whopping $21.5 billion under an economic stimulus plan that's expected to be approved by the House next week, making it the biggest winner among the 50 states.

That's according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which analyzed the new spending proposals offered by House leaders.

Don't take that money to the bank quite yet, because the numbers are moving targets. Congressional offices were still trying to digest the mammoth package on Friday. And the Senate has yet to offer its plan.

But whatever happens, it's clear that states are in line for a big chunk of money under the Democratic proposals floating in Washington. If the state received $21.5 billion, that would represent about half of the state's ballooning budget shortfall.

On Thursday, staffers of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee estimated that California would receive $4.5 billion to spend on highways, bridges and other projects. But that's only a small part of the overall $825 billion package, as the new numbers make clear.

Other stimulus money would be aimed at programs for child care, job training and energy assistance for the poor, among other things. House Democrats say the overall package would create or save up to 4 million jobs in the next two years.

Under the House Democratic plan, the biggest source of aid to states -- $79 billion -- would be reserved for a state fiscal stabilization fund. California would get $7.8 billion under that program alone.

The lion's share of the money for the stabilization fund -- 61 percent -- would have to be spent to support K-12 and post-secondary education, according to the NCSL. The remainder could be spent on public safety and other government services.

Some House Republicans are criticizing the scope of the package, which Democrats are promising to finalize by next month.

"At this point, we believe spending nearly a trillion dollars is really more than what we ought to be putting on the backs of our kids and their kids," said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio. "At the end of the day this is not our money to spend -- we're borrowing this money from our kids -- and so we have to find a package that's the right size."

Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California said that the economy "is facing the most serious crisis since the Great Depression" and that Congress must act quickly.

"We cannot stand idly by as Americans across the country lose their jobs and families and communities struggle to make ends meet," she said.

The House Democratic plan includes $275 billion in tax cuts.

To see the NCSL's analysis of how states would fare under the House Democratic plan, go to: http://ncsl.org/print/statefed/StateAllocations.pdf

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