Baucus, Tester vote for final Jobs Bill, at least $626 million for Montana

Montana will see thousands of new jobs, tax cuts

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators today voted in favor of a plan to rebuild America’s struggling economy by creating millions of new jobs, investing in long-term infrastructure, and cutting taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester voted to pass the Jobs Bill, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Baucus and Tester said the final version of the Jobs Bill will create thousands of good-paying jobs in Montana by investing at least $626 million into Montana-specific projects. The funding includes nearly $212 million for Montana highway construction, $39 million for much-needed water systems, and funding for energy, housing, law enforcement, education and health care. More funding will flow into the state when agencies like the Bureau of Indian Affairs makes final decisions about where to invest the funding.

Baucus, who is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and Tester, a member of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, played key roles in writing and negotiating a final, trimmed-down version of the Jobs Bill.

“The challenge before us is the biggest of our generation. The time to act is now and that’s what we’re doing,” Baucus said. “This bill will help create and save good-paying jobs and will help get our economy back on track. And it’s an investment in our economy’s future. We have two choices in life – we can try or do nothing. Today we are trying to make Montana and our country a better place and I believe that’s what we have done.”

“This Jobs Bill is a big victory for middle-class folks in Montana who are paying a tough price after years of failed economic policies,” Tester said. “This Jobs Bill will rebuild our economy from the ground up by putting folks to work and investing in people. We won’t get out of this mess overnight, but passing the Jobs Bill is an important first step, and it will pay us back for generations to come.”

Earlier this week, the White House said the Jobs Bill will create or save 11,000 jobs in Montana over the next two years.

Here is a breakdown of Montana-specific funding in the Jobs Bill:

•   Montana highway funding: $211,793,391
•   Montana transit formula funding: $15,611,710
•   Montana Stabilization Fund (assists states and local governments for education, public safety and other needs): $121,371,174
•   Montana water systems: $39,188,800
•   Montana Head Start and education for the disadvantaged: $46,094,661
•   U.S. Department of Education funding for Montana: $38,588,400
•   Montana education technology: $4,839,000
•   Montana energy and weatherization programs: $52,747,681
•   Housing in Montana: $18,645,064
•   Montana Child Care and Development block grants: $5,747,006
•   Montana Community Services Block Grants: $4,544,915
•   Montana food and shelter assistance: $51,228,591
•   Montana’s drug task forces and other community justice funding: $6,645,076
•   U.S. Department of Labor grants for Montana: $8,868,166
•   TOTAL: $625,913,635

•   The Making Work Pay tax credit will put $400 extra dollars in the pockets of 95 percent of hard working Montana families.
•   A one-time payment of $250 in the pockets of retired and disabled Montanans on Social Security, Railroad Retirement and Veterans Disability.
•   A temporary tax hold on some unemployment benefits, to help unemployment checks stretch further.
•   An additional $170 million for Medicaid funding in Montana.
•   Expansion of the first-time home buyer credit- to help more Montana families buy their first home, and improve the housing market.
•   Expanding the earned income tax credit to more Montanans. In 2005, the average earned income tax credit was more than $1,500.
•   A significant expansion of the existing child tax credit for Montanans.
•   A new “American Opportunity” tax credit of up to $2,500 to help Montanans pay for college.
•   Expansion of tax credits to help Montanans make energy-efficient improvements to their homes. 
•   $1.6 billion clean renewable energy bonds (CREBs) to encourage alternative energy solutions.
•   $2 billion in tax-exempt bonds to spur economic development on tribal lands.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Jobs Bill earlier today. The legislation is expected to pass the Senate tonight before going to President Obama to be signed into law.