Federal dollars set to help struggling states. Plus: spending cuts at home, tax cuts, higher education and pre-k

January 23, 2009 | Alex Stone

State aid might top $2.8 billion: A massive economic stimulus package headed for a vote on the House floor next week contains more than $2.8 billion in federal funding for Washington state for infrastructure projects and Medicaid over the next two years, Democratic leaders and committee staff said Thursday.

Democrats propose swift round of spending reductions: The Legislature’s majority Democrats unveiled their plans for an immediate round of state spending cuts Thursday, saying quick action is needed to balance the state budget. Their plans duplicate some steps already taken by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who began ordering spending reductions last year as the state’s dour budget outlook came into sharper focus. But the Legislature’s quick-fix plans also hint at some departures from Gregoire’s budget blueprint.

Will the Tax Cuts Help Fix the Economy?: How much will the $300 billion in tax cuts approved today by the House Ways & Means Committee really stimulate the economy? They will help some, but don’t expect them to accomplish a lot.  

College opportunity in a hard-times budget: Washington provides its citizens less opportunity to enter four-year colleges than most other states. The state’s large system of community colleges is supposed to make up the difference by getting students through their first two years and then allowing them into an affordable public university. It hasn’t worked out that way for decades, because the Legislature has not funded enough enrollment at four-year schools. The University of Washington each year rejects thousands of qualified applicants who could thrive academically on the campus.

Infrastructure, State Aid Mark Obama Recovery Package: An $825 billion economic recovery program that creates and saves 3 million to 4 million jobs, extends vitally needed help to unemployed workers and provides to states—facing their severest budget shortfalls in decades—tax relief for working families and other measures is making its way through Congress.

Why We Need Pre-K Construction In the Stimulus: As policy makers pore over stimulus proposals, it’s time to talk about building projects — about putting people to work as soon as possible constructing new facilities and renovating crumbling ones. So far, the House Appropriations Committee has suggested spending $14 billion on K-12 school construction. We’ve argued that it makes good sense to spend stimulus money on building facilities — and we want to stress that early childhood facilities must be included in the mix.

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Posted in Early Learning, Education, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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