Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Victory for Aliquippa Caregivers - And More to Come

Victory for Aliquippa Caregivers – And More to Come

(PITTSBURGH) -- In a victory for laid-off employees of Commonwealth Medical Center (formerly Aliquippa Hospital) who have been fighting for unpaid wages, the Medical Center and its chief lender, Bridge Finance Group, agreed to pay part of the wages owed immediately and to work toward full payment within three weeks.

The agreement reached on Tuesday provides that the former employees will receive a portion of the wages owed by 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, January 28, with a commitment to ensuring full compensation in the next few weeks.

“This is a tremendous first step, and we are going to keep fighting to make sure everyone is paid in full for our work on behalf of patients and our community,” said Kathie Marino, RN and former Commonwealth employee.  “In this economic crisis, working people need to stick together so our voices are heard.”

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Bernard Markovitz signed the order releasing partial payment of employees’ unpaid wages at Tuesday’s hearing, and has scheduled a follow up hearing for Tuesday, February 17, at 11:00 A.M. to approve an agreement for full payment of wages owed. 

Leading up to Tuesday’s hearing, Commonwealth Medical Center employees and community supporters held a week of rallies and public activities to draw attention to the need for fair treatment of working families during layoffs.

  • On Monday before the hearing, a group of four nurses formerly employed by the hospital, two area clergy, and a union leader sat in at the closed hospital demanding fairness for working families, not just those at the top. 
  • On Friday, January 23, a group of former hospital employees traveled to Chicago for a rally at the Bridge Finance Group's headquarters at the Sears Tower joined by SEIU Healthcare Illinois members and former employees of Republic Windows and Doors. 
  • On Tuesday, January 27, in downtown Pittsburgh, over 100 supporters rallied with former hospital workers prior to the start of the Bankruptcy Court hearing.

“We are grateful for the support of our union and community and are very encouraged by today’s developments,” said Linda Karamarkovich, RN.  “We intend to continue to stick together, and look forward to receiving part of what we are owed tomorrow and all of our unpaid wages very soon.”

Commonwealth Medical Center filed for bankruptcy last December 5th and closed abruptly about one week later.  In December, the Medical Center and Bridge Finance Group agreed to pay wages for hospital executives but left frontline caregivers out in the cold, waiting for paychecks that were owed them before Christmas and New Years. 

PA Hospital Workers Sit-in to Get Back Pay

Caregivers Sit-in at Community Hospital in Aliquippa, Demand Fairness for Working Families

(ALIQUIPPA, PA) -- Hospital caregivers from the former Aliquippa Hospital initiated a peaceful sit-in inside the closed medical facility to protest hospital management’s failure to pay employees’ unpaid wages that were due to them before Christmas. 

Four Registered Nurses, former hospital employees, joined by SEIU Healthcare PA Secretary-Treasurer Kim Patterson, Father Jack O’Malley of Pittsburgh and Scott Fabean of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network went into the building around noon to discuss the issue with hospital management. The delegation met with hospital officials for about an hour and a half. When discussions broke down, the delegation vowed to stay on the property until management agreed to pay them for the hours they worked.

Willie Felts (CFO) and John O’Donnell (CEO) from Commonwealth then called the Aliquippa police who removed the caregivers and their supporters from the hospital grounds. 

The workers will continue to press their demands at a demonstration before the bankruptcy hearing scheduled for tomorrow at the US Steel Building in Pittsburgh.

“It’s unfortunate when workers have to stage sit-ins to get what they earned,” said Kathie Marino, RN. “But workers across the nation are saying ‘enough is enough’ of executives looking out for themselves and not working families.”

Commonwealth Medical Center (formerly Aliquippa Hospital) filed for bankruptcy protection on December 5, 2008. The State Department of Health moved to revoke the hospital's license about a week later, resulting in the layoff of all but a few of the hospital's approximately 200 employees.

A deal made between the hospital and their primary lender, Bridge Finance Group, provided for executive salaries, but left frontline workers out in the cold. Workers are still waiting for wages they have been owed since before Christmas and New Years.

“When Commonwealth took over Aliquippa Hospital they promised us that they cared about our community,” said Linda Karamarkovich, who worked as a registered nurse before the closing.  “If they really cared about the community they wouldn’t have closed the hospital just weeks before Christmas, leaving hundreds of families without a paycheck and thousands of families without a local hospital.”

“All we want is justice and our back pay,” added Michelle Batchelor, RN.  “We earned it and they owe it.”

Some of the former Aliquippa workers took their case to Chicago last week where they were joined by hundreds of supporters at a rally in front of Bridge’s headquarters in the Sears Tower.

Among the supporters who joined them were former employees of Republic Windows and Doors who were also denied their back pay when their employer closed their plant. The Republic workers staged a five day long sit-in that resulted in the workers winning.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the union representing the workers and the largest healthcare workers’ union in the state, has filed a complaint that will be heard at a bankruptcy court hearing on Tuesday.


SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the Commonwealth’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and other health care workers, representing over 20,000 members in hospitals, nursing homes, home care, and state health facilities.  For more information go to: www.seiuhealthcarepa.org.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Join us at RootsCamp in Pittsburgh on Saturday


Join the Fun!  Join us for RootsCamp Pittsburgh this Saturday, January 24

RootsCamp is a unique self organizing conference with no preset schedule--the interests of the attendees drive the agenda. It's also a lot of fun, and it's a great way to meet other progressives from across Pennsylvania and beyond.

Think of it as a cross between an election debrief and grassroots organizing skills share. The progressive community — everyone from the "netroots" to precinct captains to field organizers to national message consultants — come together to share successes, failures, impart old wisdom and new discoveries.

RootsCamp is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants. There are NO SPECTATORS. This open format never fails to yield an astounding exchange of information, spin-off projects, and cross-pollination among unexpected partners.  

For more info and to RSVP, click on the following link:


RootsCamps in other cities have been a huge success, and we're excited to make this RootsCamp even better. You'll meet great people, get energized for 2009 and enjoy some fantastic food! Best of all it only costs $10, thanks to our wonderful sponsors (SEIU PA State Council and United Steelworkers).

To get a taste of what RootsCamp is like, check out the video clips from the last year’s Rocky Mountain RootsCamp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZaM3CjVzPs

Don’t miss out. Register soon.  Space is limited.

We look forward to seeing you on January 24 in Pittsburgh!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Economic impact study demonstrates that a single-payer system would be a huge economic stimulus to the U.S. economy

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Establishing a national single-payer style healthcare reform system would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy by creating 2.6 million new jobs, and infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, with another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study released today. It may be viewed at www.CalNurses.org.
The number of jobs created by a single-payer system, expanding and upgrading Medicare to cover everyone, parallels almost exactly the total job loss in 2008.
"These dramatic new findings document for the first time that a single-payer system could not only solve our healthcare crisis, but also substantially contribute to putting America back to work and assisting the economic recovery," said Geri Jenkins, RN, co-president of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, which sponsored the study.
"Through direct and supplemental expenditures, healthcare is already a uniquely dominant force in the U.S. economy," said Don DeMoro, lead author of the study and director of the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, the NNOC/CNA research arm.
"However, so much more is possible. If we were to expand our present Medicare system to cover all Americans, the economic stimulus alone would create an immense engine that would help drive our national economy for decades to come," DeMoro said.
Expanding Medicare to include the uninsured, and these on Medicaid or employer-sponsored health plans, and expanding coverage for those with limited Medicare, would have the following immediate impacts:
Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs (slightly exceeding the number of jobs lost in 2008)
Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and public revenues
Add $100 billion in employee compensation
Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues
Further, moving to the new system comes with an unexpectedly low price tag, given the economic benefits and the far-reaching consequences of genuine healthcare reform, DeMoro noted.
Healthcare for all far less than the Wall Street bailouts
Adding all Americans to an expanded Medicare could be achieved for $63 billion beyond the current $2.1 trillion in direct healthcare spending. The $63 billion is six times less than the federal bailout for CitiGroup, and less than half the federal bailout for AIG. Solely expanding Medicare to cover the 47 million uninsured Americans (as of 2006 data on which the study is based) could be accomplished for $44 billion.
The IHSP projections build from an econometric model of the current face of healthcare - applying economic analysis to a wide array of publicly available data from Medicare, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and other sources.
It is the first known study to provide an econometric analysis of the economic benefits of healthcare to the overall economy, showing how changes in direct healthcare delivery affect all other significant sectors touched by healthcare, and how sweeping healthcare reform can help drive the nation's economic recovery.
Healthcare presently accounts for $2.105 trillion in direct expenditures. But healthcare spreads far beyond doctor's offices and hospitals. Adding in healthcare business purchases of services or supplies and spending by workers, the total impact of healthcare in the economy mushrooms to nearly $6 trillion.
Overall, every direct healthcare dollar creates nearly three additional dollars in the U.S. economy. Incurrent form, healthcare:
Generates 45 million jobs, directly and in other industries.
Accounts for 10.5 percent of all U.S. jobs and 12.1 percent of all U.S. wages.
Totals 9.2 percent of the nation's Gross National Product.
Contributes about 25 percent of all federal tax revenues. Federal, state, and local taxes from the healthcare sector in 2006 added up to $824 billion.
All those numbers would rise dramatically through comprehensive healthcare reform. But a single-payer system would produce the biggest increase in jobs and wages. The reason, DeMoro said, is that "the broadest economic benefits directly accrue from the actual delivery and provision of healthcare, not the purchase of insurance."
Medicare for all has numerous other benefits, of course, noted Jenkins, from a streamlined system with tens of billions less in private insurance administrative waste, guaranteed choice of physician and hospital, no loss of coverage when unemployed, and no one denied coverage due to age or health status.
"Only a single-payer, expanded Medicare-for-all approach ends the current disgraceful practice of insurance companies refusing to pay for medical treatment or engaging in rampant price gouging that discourages patients from going to the doctor, seeing specialists, or getting diagnostic procedures in a timely manner," said Jenkins.
The IHSP has conducted research for members of Congress and state legislatures as well as NNOC/CNA, and received international renown for research studies on cost and charges in the hospital industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospital staffing, and other healthcare policy.
Robert Fountain, a frequent economics consultant for the California Public Employees Retirement System (Cal-PERS), served as a consultant on the study.

SOURCE National Nurses Organizing Committee

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Full Text of the Stimulus Bill Draft

The following is the full texf of the draft stimulus bill being circulated among Democrats in Congress.



The economy is in a crisis not seen since the Great Depression.

Credit is frozen, consumer purchasing power is in decline, in the last four months the country has lost 2 million jobs and we are expected to lose another 3 to 5 million in the next year.

Conservative economist Mark Zandi was blunt: "the economy is shutting down."

In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in.

The package contains targeted efforts in:

· Clean, Efficient, American Energy

· Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology

· Modernizing Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways

· Education for the 21st Century

· Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs

· Lowering Healthcare Costs

· Helping Workers Hurt by the Economy

· Saving Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services

The economy is in such trouble that, even with passage of this package, unemployment rates are expected to rise to between eight and nine percent this year. Without this package, we are warned that unemployment could explode to near twelve percent. With passage of this package, we will face a large deficit for years to come. Without it, those deficits will be devastating and we face the risk of economic chaos. Tough choices have been made in this legislation and fiscal discipline will demand more tough choices in years to come.

Since 2001, as worker productivity went up, 96% of the income growth in this country went to the wealthiest 10% of society. While they were benefitting from record high worker productivity, the remaining 90% of Americans were struggling to sustain their standard of living. They sustained it by borrowing... and borrowing... and borrowing, and when they couldn't borrow anymore, the bottom fell out. This plan will strengthen the middle class, not just Wall Street CEOs and special interests in Washington.

Our short term task is to try to prevent the loss of millions of jobs and get our economy moving. The long term task is to make the needed investments that restore the ability of average middle income families to increase their income and build a decent future for their children.


Unprecedented Accountability: A historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment.

· In many instances funds are distributed through existing formulas to programs with proven track records and accountability measures already in place.

· How funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations must be posted on a special website created by the President. Program managers will also be listed so the public knows who to hold accountable.

· Public notification of funding must include a description of the investment funded, the purpose, the total cost and why the activity should be funded with recovery dollars. Governors, mayors or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. This will also be placed on the recovery website.

· A Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board will be created to review management of recovery dollars and provide early warning of problems. The seven member board includes Inspectors General and Deputy Cabinet secretaries.

· The Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General are provided additional funding and access for special review of recovery funding.

· Federal and state whistleblowers who report fraud and abuse are protected.

· There are no earmarks in this package.

This plan targets investments to key areas that will create and preserve good jobs at the same time as it is strengthening the ability of this economy to become more efficient and produce more opportunities for employment.

Clean, Efficient, American Energy: To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will strengthen efforts directed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.

· $32 billion to transform the nation's energy transmission, distribution, and production systems by allowing for a smarter and better grid and focusing investment in renewable technology.

· $16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits.

· $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.

Transform our Economy with Science and Technology: We need to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge-technologies, and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy. For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment.

· $10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation.

· $6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy.

Modernize Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways: To build a 21st century economy, we must engage contractors across the nation to create jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, modernize public buildings, and put people to work cleaning our air, water and land.

· $30 billion for highway construction;

· $31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings;

· $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments;

· $10 billion for transit and rail to reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption.

Education for the 21st Century: To enable more children to learn in 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world, this package provides:

· $41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion).

· $79 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services, including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas, $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures, and $25 billion to states for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education.

· $15.6 billion to increase the Pell grant by $500.

· $6 billion for higher education modernization.

Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs: We will provide direct tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, and spur investment and job growth for American Businesses. [marked up by the Ways and Means Committee]

Lower Healthcare Costs: To save not only jobs, but money and lives, we will update and computerize our healthcare system to cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help reduce healthcare costs by billions of dollars each year.

· $20 billion for health information technology to prevent medical mistakes, provide better care to patients and introduce cost-saving efficiencies.

· $4.1 billion to provide for preventative care and to evaluate the most effective healthcare treatments.

Help Workers Hurt by the Economy: High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans' paychecks. We will help workers train and find jobs, and help struggling families make ends meet.

· $43 billion for increased unemployment benefits and job training.

· $39 billion to support those who lose their jobs by helping them to pay the cost of keeping their employer provided healthcare under COBRA and providing short-term options to be covered by Medicaid.

· $20 billion to increase the food stamp benefit by over 13% in order to help defray rising food costs.

Save Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services: We will provide relief to states, so they can continue to employ teachers, firefighters and police officers and provide vital services without having to unnecessarily raise middle class taxes.

· $87 billion for a temporary increase in the Medicaid matching rate.

· $4 billion for state and local law enforcement funding.



To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will make investments aimed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient. America's energy shortcomings present a huge opportunity to put people to work in ways that will transform our economy.

· Reliable, Efficient Electricity Grid: $11 billion for research and development, pilot projects, and federal matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electricity grid making it more efficient, secure, and reliable and build new power lines to transmit clean, renewable energy from sources throughout the nation.

· Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees: $8 billion for loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects.

· GSA Federal Buildings: $6.7 billion for renovations and repairs to federal buildings including at least $6 billion focused on increasing energy efficiency and conservation. Projects are selected based on GSA's ready-to-go priority list.

· Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants: $6.9 billion to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.

· Energy Efficiency Housing Retrofits: $2.5 billion for a new program to upgrade HUD sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and furnaces. Funds will be competitively awarded.

· Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research: $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities to foster energy independence, reduce carbon emissions, and cut utility bills. Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to universities, companies, and national laboratories.

· Advanced Battery Loans and Grants: $2 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee and Grants Program, to support U.S. manufacturers of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems. America should lead the world in transforming the way automobiles are powered.

· Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions: $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficiency grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments, and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.

· Home Weatherization: $6.2 billion to help low-income families reduce their energy costs by weatherizing their homes and make our country more energy efficient.

· Smart Appliances: $300 million to provide consumers with rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products to replace old appliances, which will lower energy bills.

· GSA Federal Fleet: $600 million to replace older vehicles owned by the federal government with alternative fuel automobiles that will save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions.

· Electric Transportation: $200 million for a new grant program to encourage electric vehicle technologies.

· Cleaning Fossil Energy: $2.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects. This funding will provide valuable information necessary to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from industrial facilities and fossil fuel power plants.

· Department of Defense Research: $350 million for research into using renewable energy to power weapons systems and military bases.

· Alternative Buses and Trucks: $400 million to help state and local governments purchase efficient alternative fuel vehicles to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions.

· Industrial Energy Efficiency: $500 million for energy efficient manufacturing demonstration projects.

Diesel Emissions Reduction: $300 million for grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, benefiting public health and reducing global warming. This includes technologies to retrofit emission exhaust systems on school buses, replace engines and vehicles, and establish anti-idling programs. 70% of the funds go to competitive grants and 30% funds grants to states with approved programs. Last year EPA was able to fund only 27% of the applications received.


We need to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge technologies and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.

Broadband to Give Every Community Access to the Global Economy
· Wireless and Broadband Grants: $6 billion for broadband and wireless services in underserved areas to strengthen the economy and provide business and job opportunities in every section of America with benefits to e-commerce, education, and healthcare. For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment.

Scientific Research

· National Science Foundation: $3 billion, including $2 billion for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness, $400 million to build major research facilities that perform cutting edge science, $300 million for major research equipment shared by institutions of higher education and other scientists, $200 million to repair and modernize science and engineering research facilities at the nation's institutions of higher education and other science labs, and $100 million is also included to improve instruction in science, math and engineering.

· National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research: $2 billion, including $1.5 billion for expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, and heart disease - NIH is currently able to fund less than 20% of approved applications - and $500 million to implement the repair and improvement strategic plan developed by the NIH for its campuses.

· University Research Facilities: $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants. The National Science Foundation estimates a maintenance backlog of $3.9 billion in biological science research space. Funds are awarded competitively.

· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $462 million to enable CDC to complete its Buildings and Facilities Master Plan, as well as renovations and construction needs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

· Department of Energy: $1.9 billion for basic research into the physical sciences including high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities. $400 million is for the Advanced Research Project Agency - Energy to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency.

· NASA: $600 million, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year.

· Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, Pandemic Flu, and Cyber Security: $900 million to prepare for a pandemic influenza, support advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, and for cyber security protections at HHS.

· National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellites and Sensors: $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling.

· National Institute of Standards and Technology: $300 million for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting interoperability standards for manufacturing.

· Agricultural Research Service: $209 million for agricultural research facilities across the country. ARS has a list of deferred maintenance work at facilities of roughly $315 million.

· U.S. Geological Survey: $200 million to repair and modernize U.S.G.S. science facilities and equipment, including improvements to laboratories, earthquake monitoring systems, and computing capacity.

Creating Small Business Opportunity

· Small Business Credit: $430 million for new direct lending and loan guarantee authorities to make loans more attractive to lenders and free up capital. The number of loans guaranteed under the SBA's 7(a) business loan program was down 57% in the first quarter of this year compared to last.

· Rural Business-Cooperative Service: $100 million for rural business grants and loans to guarantee $2 billion in loans for rural businesses at a time of unprecedented demand due to the credit crunch. Private sector lenders are increasingly turning to this program to help businesses get access to capital.

· Industrial Technology Services: $100 million, including $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program to accelerate research in potentially revolutionary technologies with high job growth potential, and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships to help small and mid-size manufacturers compete globally by providing them with access to technology.

· Economic Development Assistance: $250 million to address long-term economic distress in urban industrial cores and rural areas distributed based on need and ability to create jobs and attract private investment. EDA leverages $10 in private investments for $1 in federal funds.

DTV Conversion Coupons: $650 million to continue the coupon program to enable American households to convert from analog television transmission to digital transmission.


To build a 21st century economy, we must engage contractors across the nation to create jobs - rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and putting people to work cleaning our air, water, and land.

Highway Infrastructure: $30 billion for highway and bridge construction projects. It is estimated that states have over 5,100 projects totaling over $64 billion that could be awarded within 180 days. These projects create jobs in the short term while saving commuters time and money in the long term. In 2006, the Department of Transportation estimated $8.5 billion was needed to maintain current systems and $61.4 billion was needed to improve highways and bridges.

Transit: Public transportation saves Americans time and money, saving as much as 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline and reducing carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons each year.

· New Construction: $1 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit and to speed projects already in construction. The Federal Transit Administration has $2.4 billion in pre-approved projects.

· Upgrades and Repair: $2 billion to modernize existing transit systems, including renovations to stations, security systems, computers, equipment, structures, signals, and communications. Funds will be distributed through the existing formula. The repair backlog is nearly $50 billion.

· Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities. The Department of Transportation estimates a $3.2 billion maintenance backlog and $9.2 billion in needed improvements. The American Public Transportation Association identified 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling $15.5 billion. Funds will be distributed through the existing formulas.

Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants: $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service. The Department of Transportation's Inspector General estimates the North East Corridor alone has a backlog of over $10 billion.