As some may recall, I sent E-mails to all NM Government Elected Reps on the Stimulus Bill. Here is the response I got back from Senator Tom Udall and my response to his office.
To: "Senator Tom Udall Tom Udall" <Senator@tomudall.senate.gov>
Subject: Re: Thank you for contacting me.
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2009 17:06:10 +0000
Dear Senator Udall,
We have a process in place from which to pass legislation. Why do we need a Bill that was originally positioned as Stimulus and later changed to Recovery and Investment? If the legislation is strong enough, it should be able to pass on it's own merits, through normal processes. If you are implying that this is not possible and an exrtodinary funding measure was necessary, then I would say your first duty would be to work toward correcting the process as opposed to creating something that circumvents the established process. We didn't need this. This is a spending Bill. No amount of New Mexico benifits are going to make up for the fact that my children will be saddled with this expense. Create jobs, do what is right for economic growth but do not tell me that all of these special needs programs are going to help our economic situation.
The American people recognize that something needs to be done. The largest spending Bill in the history of our Nation was not it. I read today that in order to take advantage of many of the benifits proposed to help Americans in need, State Legislatures would have to adopt long term policies that would support long term aid programs (welfare). Essentially, commit State budgets to continue to support these programs. This is stupidity. How can you claim that this will help? In 2 years, our local economy is on the hook for expanded welfare programs, long term. How does that make any sense at all?
I'm sorry, Government is supposed to work for the Citizens, not the other way around. All you've done here is create legislature that will make it more difficult for Americans to improve their economic situations. I said in my earlier note that I would not vote for you if you voted for this legislation to pass. It is my understanding that you did vote in favor of this Bill. Senator Udall, you will not receive my vote in the next election. The only voice Americans have are at the polls and I intend to make the most of mine.
Thank you for responding. I am sorry the news was not more favorable for both of us.
Good luck to you Senator,
-------------- Original message from "Senator Tom Udall Tom Udall" <Senator@tomudall.senate.gov>: --------------
Thank you for contacting me regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I appreciate hearing your views and suggestions regarding this pressing matter.
New Mexicans and citizens across the country are hurting from the current economic crisis. In January of this year alone, 598,000 jobs were lost and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent. These numbers, added to the dismal job reports of the previous months, reinforced the need to act quickly and effectively to stimulate our economy. Economists from across the political spectrum agreed that Congress needed to pass a recovery package or risk double digit unemployment figures in the very near future.
To that end, President Obama and Congressional leaders put together an economic recovery package proposal for consideration by both the House and the Senate. While not perfect, the economic recovery package passed by Congress is an important and vitally necessary step in the right direction. It makes substantial investments in long-term priorities like infrastructure and renewable energy while also cutting taxes.
Much of the money in this bill will not be spent by Washington. It will be spent by governors and mayors, state agencies and school boards. New Mexico stands to receive more than $1.6 billion in federal funding from the recovery package. Below are just a few of the areas where funding from this bill will benefit our state:
o $39.2 million through the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds to address the backlog of drinking water infrastructure needs;
o $280.3 million in highway and mass transit funding;
o $8.6 million to help keep families in their homes-most of this funding will go directly into the economies of local communities;
o $7.8 million in education technology funds to purchase up-to-date computers and software and provide professional development to ensure the technology is used effectively in the classroom;
o $106 million for Title I Education for the Disadvantaged to help close the achievement gap and enable disadvantaged students to reach their potential;
o $31.6 million through the State Energy Program to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy;
o $30.4 million through the Weatherization Assistance Program;
o $18.7 million in Byrne/JAG grants to support law enforcement efforts; and,
o $1.4 million in grants to improve the criminal justice system's response to violence against women;
The bill also includes tax relief for New Mexico families and businesses, including:
o Up to $400 for individuals and $800 for couples for the Making Work Pay Tax Credit;
o $250 per person to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and disabled veterans;
o A $2,500 increase in the tax credit for higher education;
o An extended and increased Homebuyer Tax Credit to both help aspiring homeowners and stabilize plummeting home prices;
o Extended Bonus Depreciation and Small Business Expensing through 2009, allowing businesses that make capital investments to immediately deduct one-half the cost-small businesses can immediately deduct 100 percent of the cost of these investments; and,
o $22 billion for grants to schools and hospitals for energy efficiency and combined heat and power system projects.
Prior to the bill's passage, the Senate had a spirited and constructive debate to improve this essential legislation. Many amendments from both parties were accepted. An amendment I offered, to expand tax incentives to employers who hire post-9/11 veterans, was adopted unanimously. The final recovery legislation included my amendment, slightly modified, to provide the tax incentive to employers who hire veterans discharged in the previous five years. While I am pleased this was ultimately included, I am disappointed that my plan was changed to exclude some veterans who deserve assistance. I will continue working to ensure that no one who served this country and has the skills to work is trapped in unemployment.
I look forward to working with state and local officials in New Mexico to make sure the taxpayers' money is spent effectively and wisely. Citizens across this country need to watch how it is spent. We need to make sure that our local governments get the money to families that need help and businesses that will create jobs. I will be working to make sure this money creates jobs today and helps lay the groundwork for a brighter future. I encourage you to do the same and call your attention to www.recovery.gov
, which was set up by the Obama Administration to help provide transparency and oversight of the money spent in the economic recovery effort. This is a welcome change in how our government operates.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. I will keep them in mind as I continue working to create jobs and revitalize our economy. Please feel free to contact me about any federal issue. You may visit my website at www.tomudall.senate.gov
for more information.