Saturday, January 31, 2009

Barbara Lee touts economic stimulus for East Bay

OAKLAND — The East Bay stands to benefit significantly from California's $32 billion share of the economic stimulus package approved by the House this week, Rep. Barbara Lee said Friday.

The Oakland Unified School District alone stands to get almost $45.4 million in 2009 for basic education, special education and construction, Lee, D-Oakland, said at a news conference outside the downtown Oakland federal building, which houses her district office. Projections show OUSD could get another $18.9 million in 2010.

There's money to help rehabilitate housing stock and prevent foreclosures, she said, which would help address a problem that has been at the recession's heart in the East Bay and beyond.

And Lee said her 9th Congressional District would get a cut of California's $330 million earmark for federal grants for law enforcement, including community policing, a high priority as the Oakland Police Department tries to move beyond its recent disarray and Tuesday's announcement that Chief Wayne Tucker is stepping down.

"We have to move forward, and he did what he thought was best for the city and for him personally" by resigning, she said of the embattled chief.

The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus said she wasn't entirely satisfied with the $819 billion stimulus package approved Wednesday by the House. "I thought it should've been $1 trillion, and I thought the tax cuts were too deep," Lee said.

But she said Advertisementshe hopes the U.S. Senate, which will consider the package next week, will pass it unchanged and get it to President Barack Obama's desk as soon as possible. Any changes wrought by the Senate will have to be reconciled with the House's version in a conference committee before the bill is sent to the White House.

She balked at saying whether she believed Obama and House Democratic leaders gave up too early on a provision to expand state access to family-planning services for low-income Americans under Medicaid, given that item's omission still failed to bring a single Republican vote to the stimulus package.

"We had to work in a bipartisan way," she said, describing herself as "a staunch advocate of family planning" who'll work to ensure such access is provided soon anyway. "I'm confident that will be part of another bill we'll bring forward."

Obama "did everything he could," as did House Democratic leaders, to win Republican support for the bill, Lee said, noting GOP lawmakers' constituents are suffering too in this bad economy.

The $32 billion bound for California under the House version of the bill would include about $11.07 billion in Medicaid assistance; about $7.85 billion to help the state solve its budget crisis; about $5.55 billion for schools; about $2.8 billion for highways and bridges; and about $1.47 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

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  • Obama expects speedy passage of U.S. stimulus package
  • Stark votes against bailout again
  • East Bay residents gratified about court’s fairness