With almost every sector of the state’s economy faltering and unemployment soaring far above national levels, Michigan lawmakers say that the proposed federal economic stimulus package cannot be enacted quickly enough.
The federal economic stimulus package proposed by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the incoming Obama administration will combine tax cuts with large-scale government spending. The plan has a total price tag of $825 billion.
The stimulus, which appears likely to pass in both the House and Senate, will include projects overseen by the federal government, and large amounts of aid given directly to states based on their specific needs.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan” of 2009 was introduced as a bill in the House yesterday. A Senate version of the bill has yet to be drafted and proposed.
In interviews and statements this week, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D–Mich.) revealed some details of their planned pitches for bailout funds.
At the state level, Granholm is dealing with an economic crisis not seen in decades. She said in an e-mail interview this week that she plans to work to create jobs as quickly as possible across all sectors of the economy, using funding from the stimulus package to facilitate work on ready-to-go projects statewide.
“In Michigan, this package will allow us to create jobs today, create jobs and an economy for tomorrow and prevent the state from making cuts that will make the economy worse by hurting people,” she said.
She also said that she expects the package to create jobs in construction, health care and information technology sectors.
Though unable to provide specifics about the just how much funding she’d like to see Michigan receive from the stimulus package, she did say she was optimistic about the results of the bailout.
“We are hoping for a very significant investment and that it is directed toward states that have been hardest hit by this economic downturn,” she said.
When asked about some critics’ argument that Michigan’s current problems arise from its homogeneity and almost single-minded focus on the automotive and related industries, Granholm stressed the importance of diversifying the Michigan economy as much as possible.
“We want to put people back to work today, but at the same time we need to make the necessary investments that will diversify our economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil for tomorrow,” she said.
In an e-mail statement, Levin did not place a dollar value on the amount of stimulus funding he hopes the state will receive but offered a glimpse at what the money would likely be spent on, echoing the refrain of the Obama administration and others in Congress.
“The package should include funding to ready-to-go infrastructure projects such as roads, water, sewer and Great Lakes restoration and navigation,” he wrote in the statement.“
He wrote that funding should go toward producing alternative energy, keeping people in their homes and education and health information technologies.
In its current form, the House bill includes $54 billion for the development of green energy from renewable resources and $90 billion for nationwide infrastructure upgrades.
Additionally, Levin wrote that he hopes the package will provide “direct assistance to states so that they don’t have to make significant cuts in state programs.”
He also wrote about bringing manufacturing jobs back to Michigan and the industrial Midwest as a whole, saying that such jobs are the lynchpin of the regional economy.
Levin wrote that this shift must occur with the help of “federal grants to spur the development and manufacturing of advanced batteries that will power the next generation of green technology vehicles.”
With the stimulus bills pending approval in both the U.S. House and the Senate, the state’s lawmakers are still waiting to make their requests for funding on a broad range of projects. Exactly how that money is allocated will be determined in the coming months, but both Granholm and Levin expressed optimism about the future of the states economy.
“If we spend money in the right places, we can put people to work immediately,” Levin wrote.