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County by County Recovery Act Impact

By Senator Ben Nelson

Everyone knows our economy is doing better today than over a year ago when layoffs, furloughs and plant closings were in the headlines across Nebraska. Certainly, we haven’t been as hard hit as many Americans in this recession, but everyone knows we have felt it.

Everyone doesn’t agree, however, that the Recovery Act Congress passed in 2009, with its targeted spending and tax relief, has helped save and create jobs and help communities in Nebraska perk up again.

County-by-County Fact Sheets Show Recovery Local Impact
I am not trying to persuade people one way or the other. I just want to talk about the facts. So, I have just posted on my website fact sheets, with pie charts, photographs and maps showing the Recovery Act’s impact for each of Nebraska’s 93 counties, and for the state as a whole.

I had my staff prepare them because I believe in transparency and accountability, and I want Nebraskans to have this information. They can be found here: http://bennelson.senate.gov/recovery.cfm.

These fact sheets contain sources of the information, a county-by-county break down of the bill’s Making Work Pay tax cut, the First Time Homebuyer Credit, local community projects that received funding for such things as energy efficiency upgrades, human services, housing help, and how much local schools received that helped them avoid deeper cuts to their budgets.

Recovery Funds Fixing Roads That Will Drive Future Economic Development
Major roads improvement projects funded by the Recovery Act are tracked as well.

In Hall County, for example, Interstate 80 between Wood River and Grand Island is being resurfaced with more than $5.2 million in Recovery funds. In Saline County, East 13th Street and Iris Avenue is being reconstructed with more than $2.2 million from the bill, the fact sheets show.

Recovery Tax Relief Keeps Money in Nebraskans’ Pockets

A fact sheet for the entire state shows that 648,000 Nebraskans are benefitting from the Making Work Pay tax cut that put $9 million a week back in their pockets last year. That gave Nebraskans a tax cut totaling $346 million, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

This is a part of the Recovery Act that doesn’t get a lot of attention: a full one-third of the bipartisan bill I helped negotiate and that Congress passed in early 2009 went for tax relief. The bill provides a total of $337 billion in tax relief encouraging spending in our national economy for job creation and growth.

That’s one of the biggest tax cuts ever. It helped people buy food, clothing or goods, pay bills, or spend on other routine needs. It has been a regular primer for our economy.

People can see that residents in Sarpy County received a tax cut of more than $29.4 million last year. Also, the tax cut put more than $54 million back into the pockets of Lincoln residents in Lancaster County; more than $7 million for residents of Scotts Bluff County; more than $8 million for residents of Buffalo County, and so on.

Help For Nebraska Students
When our national economy fell, school districts nationwide saw large holes in their budgets open up.

Nebraska’s school districts were faced with large budget deficits and deep cuts.

The Recovery bill stepped in and provided funding for education nationwide that has delivered $363 million to help Nebraska’s school districts. The county-by-county fact sheets show how much each district received and that money is helping to keep education for Nebraska’s students at the high level they will need to compete with other schoolchildren around the world.

These are just a few highlights from these reports that I hope Nebraskans will find useful. We all are entitled to our own opinions about the wisdom of passing the Recovery Act. But I hope we can stick to the facts when we consider what the Recovery Act has done for various programs and projects in our state.