WASHINGTON, D.C. — All right, for all you stimulus watchers out there, here is what we know so far:
An agreement was reached between the House, Senate and White House on Wednesday on a compromise piece of legislation that would cost roughly $789 billion, which is less than both the House-passed version ($820 billion) and the Senate version ($838 billion).
To arrive at this number, some funding/tax cuts were reduced, others dropped.
One of the most talked about reductions was a cut of about $25 billion from a state fiscal stabilization fund. The fund had been $79 billion in the House and was lowered to $40 billion in the Senate. The compromise brought that amount back to $53.6 billion.
The Senate had agreed to cut about $19 billion for school construction to garner the support of key Republicans. At the request of House Democrats, some of the money in the state fiscal stabilization fund can now be used for school renovation.
Negotiators also decided to cut back on spending that would have provided health insurance to the unemployed. The House version had provided a 65 percent subsidy for nine months. The Senate version reduced that to a 50 percent subsidy for 12 months. The compromise will include a 60 percent subsidy for nine months. The compromise also kept the elimination of the Medicaid option for unemployed individuals who are not eligible for COBRA, a provision that had been in the House version, but was cut out in the Senate.
President Obama’s middle-class tax cut proposal that would have given individuals up to $500 and families up to $1,000 also went on the chopping block. In the compromise, those numbers decreased to $400 for individuals and $800 for couples.
The tax credit for first-time homebuyers is now $8,000. The Senate version had raised the amount to $15,000 for all homebuyers, not just those purchasing for the first time.
According to White House figures, here’s what the compromise legislation provides Minnesota:
• 66,000 jobs created or saved over the next two years. (Under previous versions, this number was estimated at 70,000.) The jobs breakdown by Congressional is 7,100 in District 1, 8,400 in District 2, 7,600 in District 3, 7,000 in District 4, 7,200 in District 5, 8,700 in District 6, 6,800 in District 7 and 7,400 in District 8. (If you’re a math person, these numbers do not equal 66,000… still.)
• A tax cut of up to $800 for 2,120,000 workers. (The cut had been $1,000 in previous legislation.)
• Makes 41,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. The credit is designed to make college affordable by creating a $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college.
• Offers an additional $100 per month in unemployment benefits to 331,000 workers in Minnesota who have lost their jobs in the recession and provides extended unemployment benefits to an additional 52,000 laid-off workers.
• Provides funding to modernize at least 91 schools in Minnesota.
Stay tuned for more updates on Minnesota-specific figures.
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes [at] minnpost [dot] com.