Federal Relations

February 13, 2009

Economic Recovery Package Finalized

House and Senate negotiators have finalized an economic recovery package conference report, which passed the House on a largely party-line vote Friday afternoon and will pass the Senate in the late evening. The $787 billion package includes significant funding for research and student aid, but does not provide resources desired specifically for higher education infrastructure projects.

For research, the economic recovery package will include (but is not limited to): $3 billion for the National Science Foundation; $2 billion for the Department of Energy Office of Science ($1.6 billion for science, $400 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy); $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health; $830 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $1 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. On the education front, the final package includes a $500 increase for the Pell maximum as well as a new $2,500 education tax credit, of which 40 percent would be refundable. The final agreement will also add $200 million for the work-study program.

The economic recovery package will provide $53.6 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Of the total provided for the fund, approximately $39.5 billion is dedicated to public education, both K-12 and higher education. A new provision includes early childhood education programs, “as applicable,” as well. Infrastructure projects are┬ápermissible under the stabilization fund. However, competing budget priorities at the state level will pose a challenge for such projects. The bill also provides for nearly $8.8 billion to states for “other government services,” which could be used to support higher education.

A copy of the bill as well as the notes explaining the provisions are available at the following web addresses: http://appropriations.house.gov/ or http://www.rules.house.gov/. In the coming days, the Office of Federal Relations will provide analyses of the legislation, including details on what the appropriated funding means specifically for the state of Washington.