Thursday, April 2, 2009

Detert: This is how you track the stimulus cash from D.C.

Almost every day, the e-mail boxes here in the newsroom are hit with news releases announcing the latest government programs to receive a boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the "federal stimulus."

At times, it can get dizzy trying to track where the money is going, and how exactly this program or that is suppose to help lift the economy out of the doldrums. Simply put, $787 billion is ALOT of money.

Two Web sites and - may make it easier to track how and where federal stimulus dollars are being spent, including here in the Sunshine State.

State Sen. Nancy, Detert, R-Venice, who obviously has spent some time on the two sites, this afternoon released a news release detailing where some of the money is heading: is the official website where all announcements and developments on
funding derived from the Stimulus Package can be monitored. The site also
provides information about Federal grant awards and contracts and links directly
to, which serves as a one-stop-shop for all Federal related grants.

Some of the Stimulus funding streams that have recently been announced to help provide recovery for Florida’s economy include:
· Repairs to Roads and Bridges--$1.3 billion
· Public Transit--$316 million
· Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program--$135 million
· Stop Violence Against Women--$6.9 million
· Community Development Block Grant--$42.6 million
· Homelessness Prevention--$65 million
· Native American Block Grant--$89.8 million
· Public Housing Capital Fund--$85.5 million
· Tax Credit Assistance Program--$101 million
· WIA Youth Activities--$42.8 million
· WIA Adult Activities--$19.4 million
· WIA Dislocated Workers--$80.5 million
· Adoption Assistance--$97.7 million
· Foster Care--$88.7 million
· Employment Service to connect unemployment insurance claimants to employment and training opportunities that will facilitate their reentry into employment--$22 million

· Title I, Part A Grants to Local Educational Agencies--$492 million
· Clean Water State Revolving Fund--$133.6 million
· Drinking Water State Revolving Fund--$88 million
· Wildfire Prevention--$900 million
· Weatherization--$175.9 million
· State Energy Program--$126 million

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the following Stimulus funding opportunities nationwide:
· The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will use $145 million of the $173 million provided in the Recovery Act for its Direct Operating Farm Loan Program, which will give 2,042 farmers – almost 50% are beginning farmers and 10% are socially disadvantaged producers – direct loans from the agency. These loans will be used to
purchase items such as farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, and other operating
expenses and will stimulate rural economies by providing American farmers funds
to operate.
· USDA Rural Development Agency will initially provide nearly 10,000 rural families with $14.9 million ($1.17 billion in loan guarantees) for homeownership financing, creating or saving more than 5,000 jobs.
· USDA Rural Development has released funding for more than $400 million in pending applications for Water and Waste grants and $140 million in pending applications for Water and Waste Direct Loans. Rural Development expects nearly 13,000 jobs will be created by 400 water and wastewater projects.
· The Forest Service has released almost $100 million of the $1.15 billion for projects in the Recovery Act. The stimulus funding will be used for hazardous fuels reduction, forest health protection, and rehabilitation and hazard mitigation activities on federal, state, and private lands. Over 1,500 jobs will be created through shovel ready projects that were identified for urban youth and individuals involved in urban forestry, restoration projects, fire prevention, roads, bridges, buildings, and recreation facilities. Florida has received $900,000 for reduction of mechanical fuel on both state and private lands to reduce the state’s vulnerability to catastrophic wildfire and improve the health and resiliency of ecosystems.
· The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will release up to $145 million provided in the Recovery Act to restore frequently flooded land to its natural state; create jobs in rural communities nationwide when landowners establish these
floodplain easements; as well as restore and protect an estimated 60,000 acres
of flood-prone lands nationwide through the floodplain easement component of its
Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Signups for the easements began
March 9 and will continue through March 27
· NRCS has released $80 million of the $145 million for watershed projects. Through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Operations Program, funded projects will improve fish and wildlife habitat and create or restore
· NRCS also released $50 million for rehabilitating aging watershed structures to protect lives and property and public infrastructure. Over 2,100 jobs directly related to NRCS Recovery Act funding are estimated in the engineering and biological fields, additional specialized equipment operators, construction crews, and many other diversified skilled laborers.
· The Recovery Act provides a 13.6 percent increase in the monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit for recipients, or roughly $80 per family per month. The SNAP program currently serves over 31 million people each month and the influx of funding will not only help those struggling during these tough economic times but stimulate local economies. It’s estimated that for every five dollars spent through SNAP, $9.20 of local economic activity is generated. This benefit increase will begin to be provided to recipients on April 1, 2009. In addition, ARRA provides nearly $300 million to help states administer SNAP. The first $145 million will be released this month to assist States in responding to increased need. Additionally, the USDA will award grants of up to $5 million to help make SNAP benefits more accessible. The deadline to submit a grant application is June 11, 2009.
· An additional $5 million in funding is provided for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) for facility improvements and equipment upgrades. This is in addition to the over $114 million that will be spent on food
distribution on Indian reservations this year.
· In addition, the Recovery Act provides additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Through this program, USDA provides commodities and administrative funds to states for further distribution to local organizations that assist the needy, including food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. The first $25 million to support administrative functions will be distributed this month.The NIH has announced the availability of applications to allocate the following Recovery Act funds:
· At least $200 million in Challenge Grants to support research on topics that address specific scientific and health research challenges in biomedical and behavioral research that would benefit from significant 2-year jumpstart funds;
· $1 billion in construction grants to help build new or improve existing research facilities and help grow the economy; and
· $300 million in shared instrumentation grants to facilitate the purchase of research equipment that will enable scientists and researchers to complete their critical work.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) has announced the availability of funding under the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) to address the personnel needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement. Applications for CHRP grants are currently being accepted online via the COPS Office web site at through April 14, 2009. Details include:
· CHRP is a competitive grant program that provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies having primary law enforcement authority to create and preserve jobs and to increase their community policing capacity and crime-prevention efforts.

· Up to $1 billion in grant funding will be available for the hiring and rehiring of additional career law enforcement officers.
· There is no local match requirement for CHRP, but grant funding will be based on current entry-level salary and benefits packages and therefore any additional costs for higher salaries or benefits for particular individuals hired will be
the responsibility of the grantee agency.
· CHRP grants will provide 100 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for 3 years (36 months) for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions (including filling existing unfunded vacancies) or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date, as a result of local
budget cuts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide the
following Stimulus funding nationwide:
· $100 million for Emergency Food and Shelter Program;
· $150 million for transit and rail security grants;
· $150 million for port security grants, no non-federal match required;
· $210 million for Assistance to Firefighter (AFG) grants for firehouse construction; maximum grant is $15.0M; and
· $5 million expansion in authority for FEMA Community Disaster Loans
Recognizing the need to identify and secure funding quickly, Senator Drtert added “those seeking fiscal relief for their agencies, educational institutions, coalitions,
communities, nonprofits, and businesses should visit and
often to monitor formula funding streams and aggressively apply for competitive

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