Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Implications for Youth and Education in the Stimulus Bill

Although this hasn't been verified, this is the latest I have heard about the opportunities in the stimulus bill.

The bill provides $789 billion over two years, but $70 billion of this amount extends provisions of the Alternative Minimum Tax that would have been enacted anyway: thus, relative to baseline spending, the actual fiscal stimulus is closer to $730 billion.

The bill provides about $100b for education, including:
· $250 million for data systems.

· $54 billion for a “fiscal stabilization fund,” most of which must be used for education. Charter schools are eligible to receive this funding.

· $4.6 billion for early childhood programs

· $13 billion for Title 1, of which $3b is for the school improvement fund.

· $11.7 billion for IDEA

· $200 million for the teacher incentive fund

· $15.6 billion for Pell Grants (it appears that the award will increase $400-500 next year)

· $5.17 billion for job training, including $200m national emergency grants, $250m for community training (through community colleges), $250m for Job Corps, $1.52 billion for dislocated workers, $1.2 billion for youth training, $540m for vocational rehabilitation, and $50m for Youthbuild.

The bill also provides low-income families with tax relief that should lift an estimated 2.5 million people out of poverty:
· The earned income tax credit is expanded to provide, for the first time, a larger credit to families with more than two children.

· The earnings requirement for the child care tax credit is lowered from $8,500 to $3,000, which will expand the credit received by the families of 13 million children.

· The Administration’s refundable “making work pay” tax credit is set at $400 for individuals and $800 for families.

· The HOPE tax credit is renamed the American Opportunity tax credit and is for the first time made partially refundable, thus finally making the credit useful to low-income students. The refundable portion would provide up to $1000 per year for tuition and books. On the spending side, the bill also will increase Pell grants by $400-500 per year.

Other provisions of help to low- and moderate-income families:
· A 20-30% increase in the monthly food stamp benefits for the lowest income families (this increase will phase out over time).

· A federally-funded increase of $25 per month in state unemployment insurance benefits. In addition, the bill provides fiscal incentives for states to make part-time workers eligible for UI (especially important for working mothers).

· Several billion for TANF, with changes in federal law that would encourage states to help more families when unemployment increases.

· $4 billion for capital improvements to public housing

· $1.5b for homelessness prevention

The bill also provides states with $87 billion through a temporary increase in the Federal share of Medicaid costs (this funding comes with a temporary prohibition on state action to restrict Medicaid eligibility).

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