Published: Feb 21, 2009 12:30 AM
Modified: Feb 21, 2009 06:21 AM
As the $787 billion stimulus plan was signed into law Tuesday, U.S. Rep. David Price discussed in an interview what the plan could mean for his district -- Orange, Durham and parts of Wake and Chatham counties -- and how the money will reach local communities and residents. Price joined other House Democrats in voting for the bill.
Q: What help will the stimulus plan be for people living in the 4th Congressional District?
PRICE: The plan has many components, some of which will benefit individuals directly, others of which will enable state government and local government to undertake projects that create jobs and meet longstanding needs.
Q: How will the money get from Washington to the Triangle?
PRICE: In a number of ways. Some of the money will come directly to individuals. For example, extended unemployment insurance, expanded Pell grants, food stamps, small business loans, premium subsidies for health insurance between jobs -- COBRA health insurance. So that's one way -- through individuals.
A lot of the money will come through established channels by formulas, to the states or to localities. For example, the Medicaid support for the states will go out to the states according to a formula which incorporates the number of Medicaid beneficiaries. The highway infrastructure money for the states will go out according to the regular formula. School construction money will go to individual school districts according to their Title 1 allocations. So either localities or states by formula.
And then finally some money will go out by a competitive process where agencies will evaluate applications. For example, there is some additional money in here for National Institutes of Health research, for National Science Foundation research, for building out of broadband. Those are examples of programs where there will be no entitlement, but a competitive process to see what proposals have the greatest merit.
Q: Are there any specific projects in the district that you know will be covered?
PRICE: I have some high hopes, but I do not have definitive word on specific projects in my district. Congress made the decision not to earmark this bill in the sense of writing projects into the bill. Now we hope there will be lots of local projects. There indeed will be. That is what a lot of the bill is about, getting aid to localities and creating jobs in localities. But they are not designated in the bill itself.
... I am hopeful that North Carolina's new National Guard headquarters can be funded through this bill. This is a high-priority, shovel-ready project which I am sure we are going to bid for very strongly.
That will be through a competitive process, though. And believe me there are plenty of highway projects in the 4th District that are on the lists.
There are needs from the transit agencies especially for buses and bus replacements. Those are all high-priority items as far as I am concerned.
Another example is a number of our municipalities are interested in expanding their wastewater capacity, and they are going to want to access the revolving funds or other funds available for water infrastructure.
Q: How will you measure the bill's effectiveness?
PRICE: Well, the most obvious measuring stick is the number of jobs created. That is also a very difficult measuring stick to apply because you are not certain what the job situation would have been without this legislation. The estimate is, for the nation, 3.5 million jobs; for North Carolina, 105,090 jobs. That's the estimate. And 9,100 for our district. So that is the most obvious measure, the jobs created.
But there will be other accomplishments that I believe we will be able to point to, such as projects completed that have value not just in creating jobs but also represent a future investment. Of course, the greatest test overall is the turning around of the national economy, which I don't expect this bill by itself to accomplish, but it is certainly part of the effort we are going to be making to get the pump primed, to get credit flowing, and to get the economy back on track.