>>Minnesotans receive $2.6 billion from Recovery Act

From Minnesota Budget Bytes,  http://minnesotabudgetbites.org/2010/07/09/recovery-act-has-brought-2-6-billion-to-minnesotans/

Recovery Act has brought $2.6 billion to Minnesotans

July 9, 2010

Minnesotans have received approximately $2.6 billion in direct federal assistance from February 2009 through May 2010 as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The direct assistance was provided through increased benefits for existing federal programs, through new tax credits and through direct cash payments. The collective impact of this direct assistance has been to put additional income into Minnesotans’ pockets to help struggling working families avoid falling into poverty and to save jobs in our local economy through increased consumer spending. Most economists agree that increased consumer spending is the key to a sustained economic recovery.

Here’s a breakdown of how much direct assistance has been received by Minnesotans through tax credits or direct cash assistance through May 2010 thanks to the Recovery Act:

1. Making Work Pay Tax Credit – $1.4 billion for Minnesotans. The Recovery Act created a new refundable tax credit equal to 6.2 percent of a worker’s earned income in 2009 and 2010. The vast majority of wage earners will benefit from this tax credit, receiving a maximum credit of $400 for an individual or $800 for a married couple. Individuals earning over $75,000 or married couples earning over $150,000 receive a smaller credit. No tax credit is available to individuals earning over $95,000 or married couples earning over $190,000.

2.  Food Stamps $109 million for Minnesotans. The Recovery Act provided a nearly 14 percent temporary increase in the maximum Food Stamp benefit. This translated into the average participating household getting $40 to $50 more each month beginning in April 2009. Also, the time limit on how long childless adults could receive Food Stamps was suspended.

3. Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits – $232 million for Minnesotans. The Recovery Act temporarily increased the regular Unemployment Insurance benefit by $25 per week.

4. Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC)- $672 million for Minnesotans. The Recovery Act , as well as other legislative action, provided additional weeks of unemployment benefits to people who would otherwise have exhausted their benefits.

5. $250 Economic Recovery Payments – $212 million for Minnesotans. The Recovery Act included a one-time payment of $250 to anyone receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement or disabled veterans’ benefits. This one-time payment was distributed mostly in May 2009.

While we have a long way to go to return to a robust, vibrant and growing economy here in Minnesota, consider how much worse off many Minnesotans and our economy would be today if not for the $2.6 billion in tax credits and direct assistance made possible by the Recovery Act. The money is flowing to struggling families and individuals who spend it in our communities, helping to spur economic recovery.

To keep the economy on the right track, Congress should extend additional aid to individuals (such as by extending  Unemployment Insurance benefits) and to states (such as through the extension of the enhanced federal matching rate for Medicaid). One point seems clear: the federal government has a powerful and significant role to play in helping struggling Minnesotans survive the continuing economic recession.

-Steve Francisco


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