California predicted to get $26 billion from stimulus bill

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 13, 2009 

WASHINGTON — Uncle Sam is ready to deliver $26 billion to California to help the state bolster its shaky finances, according to an early analysis of a compromise agreement released Friday.

That's the most of any state in the union. And that number could grow.

Congressional offices were still trying to digest the latest House-Senate compromise bill, even after the House voted to approve it. The latest estimate is from a group called the Federal Funds Information for States, which tracks federal spending for the states.

House Democrats said the bill will also provide a tax cut of up to $800 for 12.4 million California workers and their families. And it's expected to send at least $4 billion to the state to help pay for infrastructure improvements.

The highly anticipated vote went largely along party lines, and Californians were no exception. Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui and Mike Thompson voted for it, while Republican Reps. Dan Lungren and Tom McClintock opposed it.

Many Republicans complained that they were forced to vote on the hastily approved bill without getting enough time to read it.

In a speech on the House floor, Matsui said she was trying to help people who were suffering in her district.

"I think of families in my district who are living on food stamps," she said. "I think of seniors who can no longer afford to see the doctor when they are sick. I think of the new mother who has just been laid off, and who is not sure if she can pay her mortgage next month."

Lungren said the 1,000-page bill was largely a list of government programs that would do little or nothing to stimulate the economy.

"Instead of allowing American families and small business owners to keep more of what they earn, Congress has just loaded more debt on their backs. ... I understand we need to take action to revive our faltering economy," he said. "Let us not use this crisis as an excuse to recklessly throw away taxpayers' money only to say we did something."

The stimulus money is intended to be spent on a wide array of programs, including education programs, emergency food and shelter, energy projects, elderly nutrition, Medicaid, child care, health programs, transit and rail project, school lunch equipment and water programs.

The vote marks a victory for President Barack Obama, who had made the stimulus his top priority.

The White House predicted the legislation will create or save 396,000 jobs in the Golden State in the next two years.

Matsui said roughly 7,800 of those jobs are expected to be in Sacramento.

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McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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