Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gov. Rell urges quick legislation to get stimulus money

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced she has written to legislative leaders requesting passage of emergency legislation that would allow the state to quickly access millions of dollars in federal stimulus aid and begin putting people to work.
Connecticut is in line to receive approximately $3 billion: $1.65 billion in direct aid, $1.3 billion in Medicaid assistance. There are also billions of dollars more in competitive grants available. It is estimated the state could create and/or save nearly 41,000 jobs from the stimulus.
“The hallmarks of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are jobs creation and getting this money into the economy as soon as possible,” Governor Rell said in her letter of March 5 to the General Assembly leadership. “We must move expeditiously to get every last dollar for which the state of Connecticut, our towns, cities, schools and hospitals are eligible.”
The Governor is asking the Legislature to approve two emergency certification bills at its next session. One bill would shorten permit deadlines for projects considered “shovel-ready.” The second bill would make the state eligible for millions more in unemployment compensation and save Connecticut businesses millions of dollars in unemployment insurance.

Since December, the Governor’s office has received more than 2,000 projects ideas, ranging from major highway construction to town athletic fields. Those requests came from state agencies and municipalities seeking stimulus funds. A special task force, assembled by Governor Rell, has begun meeting to identify those projects qualified for federal money. The working group includes state officials, lawmakers and representatives from municipalities.
“As you know, the approval process for issuance of permits by state agencies is often lengthy and time-consuming,” Governor Rell wrote. “Since the Act requires that federal stimulus funds be obligated and spent within a relatively short timeframe, this proposed bill would tighten the timeframes for issuance of state permits so that more projects would be truly ‘shovel-ready.’”
As the national recession has worsened, so have unemployment levels in Connecticut with the jobless rate climbing to 7.1 percent. The Governor said an estimated 30,000 jobs have been lost in Connecticut over the past year and more than 130,000 citizens are currently unemployed.
“Our Department of Labor is processing unemployment claims at levels not seen in decades,” Governor Rell said. “These benefit checks are essential for the economic stability of thousands of Connecticut families and are their financial lifeline until the nation begins to recover from the recession.”
Governor Rell said the state has already received about one third of the $87 million in Unemployment Compensation Modernization funds for which it is eligible. To qualify for the rest, the state must change a law to provide unemployment benefits for any citizen who voluntarily leaves his or her job to accompany a spouse to another area from which it is impractical to commute.
The state already provides those benefits for military spouses. The Governor said getting the remaining stimulus money would help businesses save on unemployment insurance and keep the state’s unemployment fund solvent.
The Department of Labor estimates enacting this provision will cost approximately $1.2 million a year.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home