February 2, 2009

Reed and Whitehouse Push for Local Jobs and Investment as Part of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Plan

North Providence, RI – Stressing the urgent need to pass President Obama’s economic recovery plan to create jobs, aid Rhode Island’s struggling cities and towns, and make critical investments in America’s future, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today called for passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which will be debated in the Senate this week. At an event in North Providence with Mayor Charles Lombardi, the Senators pledged to deliver federal aid for Rhode Island to create jobs and invest in schools, roads, and public works projects.

“This federal funding will not solve all of our financial problems but it will put people to work by investing in schools, bridges, and highways and provide targeted relief for essential health and education programs. The President’s economic recovery plan contains vital funding for Rhode Island’s cities, towns, school districts, and universities. Investing in our communities will not only help us through the immediate crisis, it will lay the foundation for future economic growth. That is why we must pass the recovery bill that President Obama has called for. This package will go a long way towards creating jobs and restoring confidence in our economy and confidence that in a time of crisis government and institutions can work to address the needs of citizens,” said Reed.

The Senate’s economic recovery bill invests hundreds of millions in direct assistance to Rhode Island. The state would receive approximately $220 million this year to help local school systems and local governments pay for critical services; $132 million for road and bridge repair; $46 million to improve drinking water and sewer systems; $12 million for Weatherization Assistance; $7 million for police departments; and a share of at least $2.1 billion in energy efficiency grants that, among other things, can be used to retrofit public buildings. It would also provide a refundable tax credit targeted to 95% of working Americans of up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families, as well as a one time, $300 per recipient payment to Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries. Approximately 138,000 Rhode Islanders receive Social Security.

“Rhode Island families are hurting, and we have an opportunity to help them,” said Whitehouse. “This bill will help put people back to work, support our cities and towns in tough times, and invest in infrastructure – particularly green infrastructure – we badly need.”

For example, under this package, the Town of North Providence could receive approximately $1.6 million in direct assistance to pay for school services this year and it would be eligible to seek a portion of the $77 million in school renovation funds that would flow into the state.

“We appreciate Senators Reed and Whitehouse visiting North Providence this morning regarding the status of the economic recovery package. All the information they forwarded to us was greatly appreciated. The Senators’ visit gave us an opportunity to once again express the town’s dire need of assistance as we relayed during a 2008 visit to Washington regarding numerous flooding problems, road reconstruction, fire code, and security upgrades in our schools and a number of improvements in Town Hall and other municipal buildings. Knowing these projects could not be possible without federal assistance, we are hopeful that the package will be passed in an expeditious manner and that we will be able to address some of these serious issues in the Town of North Providence,” said North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi.

Reed and Whitehouse are committed to ensuring that these funds are invested wisely and with strict accountability, transparency, and oversight. The Senate’s bill includes $100 million for auditors to track and review how localities and states manage these funds, which will be accessible to the public online at recovery.gov.

On the Web: http://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=5ecdc725-31c5-4ed3-b1d4-96722460fdf9


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921