PI Original Josh Kalven Friday January 23rd, 2009, 5:14pm

The Working Family Stimulus

Yesterday, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released state-by-state estimates for the portions of the House stimulus plan "that will affect low- and moderate-income Americans."  While expansive infrastructure spending is crucial to create jobs, the ...

Yesterday, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released state-by-state estimates for the portions of the House stimulus plan "that will affect low- and moderate-income Americans."  While expansive infrastructure spending is crucial to create jobs, the proposed provisions highlighted by CBPP will likely have a more immediate effect as "[l]ow-income and unemployed families will spend benefits or tax refunds quickly to meet household expenses."

We pulled out the Illinois totals below (click on the links to learn more about each line-item):

State Medicaid Relief: $2,879,000,0000
State Fiscal Stabilization Fund: $2,703,000,000
Education Funding: 2,000,200,000
Child Care: $73,772,628
Worker Training/Employment Services: $122,000,000
Food Stamp Program: $903,800,000
Supplemental Security Income: $149,500,000
Emergency Shelter Grant Program: $71,500,000

As we pointed out earlier, the $2.8 billion in Medicaid relief should help the state clear its devastating backlog of provider reimbursements.  Meanwhile, the $2.7 billion stabilization will hopefully keep Illinois from having to "enact very painful budget cuts," as the CBPP writes. 

We've noted before that food stamps provide great bang-for-the-buck in terms of stimulus.  As such, it's great to see nearly $1 billion in additional funding for the Prairie State.  According to the CBPP, this would allow for a 13.6 percent increase in maximum food stamp benefits and would affect 1.4 million Illinois residents.

There's also an important provision for which CBPP couldn't provide state-by-state estimates: the expansion of the Child Tax Credit.  Specifically, the House proposal would broaden the program "by lowering the eligibility level, called the 'refundability threshold,' to make the credit available to all working tax filers with children." According to the CBPP, the families of 579,000 Illinois children would benefit.

Finally, the increased funding for the Emergency Shelter Grant Program is much-needed.  But as Housing Action Illinois pointed out last week, the stimulus should also include a sharp increase in the number of "Housing Choice Vouchers," which would help stem the rise in homelessness and also energize local housing sectors.

We'll be carefully watching these line-items as the House-Senate negotations occur in the coming weeks and will report back with any new developments

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