Stimulus Reaches Senate; Montana May Get $80 Million More

By Beacon Staff

The federal stimulus plan has moved from the House to Senate. And since jumping chambers, it has a new name (now the “Jobs Bill,” instead of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”) and is growing in size.

Montana’s senior Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, wields exceptional influence in fine-tuning the bill. And it appears, at least on some level, he is using some of that clout to funnel more federal dollars to his home state.

When the stimulus plan passed the House, with no Republican support, the price tag was $819 billion and Montana’s portion was estimated at about $607 million. The bill has since swelled to $890 billion and Montana is in line for $687 million, according to a joint press release sent out by Baucus and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Monday evening. The senators cautioned that the bill is likely to change as debate continues this week.

Baucus, widely considered a key architect of the bill, told the Wall Street Journal that the measure “has been carefully crafted to produce meaningful improvements to our economy.”

Here’s a breakdown of Montana’s piece of the federal plan, as of Monday night, according to the senators:

· Montana Stabilization Fund (assists states and local governments for education, public safety and other needs): $196,532,000
· Montana highway funding: $168,286,449
· Montana transit formula funding: $19,956,041
· Montana water systems: $39,188,800
· Montana school modernization: $77,600,000
· Montana education technology and vocational education: $6,719,400
· Montana Head Start and education for the disadvantaged: $46,438,661
· Montana funding for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: $39,671,000
· Montana energy program: $4,117,000
· Housing in Montana: $30,630,708
· Montana Child Care and Development block grants: $5,747,006
· Montana Community Services Block Grants: $902,493
· Montana food and shelter assistance: $37,051,838
· Montana’s drug task forces and other community justice funding: $5,765,088
· U.S. Department of Labor grants for Montana: $8,522,564
· TOTAL: $687,712,048

How, exactly, the money will be disbursed to states is still unclear. The senators only said, “Money from the Jobs Bill will likely be funneled from the federal government to the State of Montana and local communities.”