The Interior West is going to see a fair chunk of that $825 billion total bill, of which $541 billion is going to be allocated to the states. The Center for American Progress has created this nifty map that shows the allocations that can be determined on a state-by-state basis (here’s another, that breaks it out per capita). North to south, Montana gets $1.79 billion; Idaho $2.48; Wyoming $1.07; Colorado $7.07 billion; Utah $3.8 billion; Nevada $4.26 billion; Arizona $10.34 billion; and New Mexico $3.46 billion. Rounding out the west, Washington gets $10.39 billion; Oregon $6.34 billion; and the behemoth California $63.37 billion. (The giant sucking sound out here? California.)
So where does the mountain states $34.27 billion all go? That’s where it gets complicated. Generally, CAP reports:
These state and local funds include direct tax cuts for working families; increased unemployment insurance and food stamps to help those most in need; new funding to equip the education system for the 21st century; additional funds for existing clean energy programs; state-level infrastructure projects; and assistance that is necessary to protect vital services such as Medicaid.
Many of the other programs in the recovery plan will be distributed through competitive grants to states and localities, or through funding formulas where it is not possible to make estimates at this stage.
Some of programs can be described a little more in depth, however. The Daily Yonder took a close look at the legislation prior to final amendments and found these benefits for rural America–not just the western states.
- $6 billion to expand broadband internet access “so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy”
- $30 billion on roads and bridges, some in rural America
- $20 billion on school construction, some for rural schools
- $100 million for rural business grants and loans to guarantee $2 billion in loans
- $1.5 billion for rural water and sewage programs, where there’s a $1.4 billion backlog of requests
- $4.5 billion to the Corps of Engineers for “environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower and navigation infrastructure….”
- $500 million to the Bureau of Reclamation to “provide clean, reliable drinking water to rural areas and to ensure water supply to western localities impacted by drought”
- $850 million to reduce wildfire threats on public lands, $550 million to states for local projects and remaining $300 million on federal land
- $500 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to “address maintenance backlogs at schools, dams, detention and law enforcement facility and over 24,000 miles of roads”
- $550 million to modernize hospitals and clinics run by the Indian Health Services
- $500 million set aside to repair or improve housing units maintained by Native American housing programs
- $500 million to the Rural Housing Insurance Fund “to support $22 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees to help rural families and individuals buy homes….”
- $200 million would be set aside to “support $1.2 billion in grants and loans to rural areas for critical community facilities, such as for healthcare, education, fire and rescue, day care, community centers and libraries”
- $2.4 billion for “carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects”
- $209 million to the Agricultural Research Service facilities around the country.
Much of this money is just targeted to make up for massive backlogs of projects that have been festering for years. For instance, my pet projects, the National Parks, are allocated a $2.065 billion investment while they have a maintenance backlog of nearly $9 billion. Still, that $2.065 billion, just for Parks, could create more than 50,000 new jobs around the country, many of them in the West.
It’s a good start, but one that might not be adequate for the truly enormous challenge we’ve got facing us now. And it’s just the first step in this process. The Senate has a very different bill, and will most certainly want to put its stamp on the whole process. The Senate bill also differs in some significant ways, like offering just $802 million in Parks funding, but also $1.4 billion specifically for the west for water projects.
Add on top of the differences, we’ve got the politics. Senate Republicans are less likely than House Republicans to completely boycott this effort, to try to turn it into a political football, but that temptation is going to remain strong. We’re less than halfway. Here’s hoping that the bottom of the economy, already dangerously sagging, doesn’t just drop all the way out while they’re debating.