ARRA – Keeping a Good Thing Going

Yesterday, we released a new report on the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) in California. The report shows that while the ARRA has buffered the impact of the recession on California since it was enacted in February 2009, most of the ARRA’s funding – including assistance to help states avert or mitigate the impact of budget cuts – expires in 2010 or soon thereafter. Additional federal funds are needed to assist struggling workers and their families and to help California avoid another round of deep budget cuts.

Fortunately, the prospects for extending several key provisions of the ARRA are looking brighter on Capitol Hill. Next week, the Senate will reportedly take up a bill to assist more laid-off workers by providing extended unemployment insurance benefits and subsidies to help cover the cost of health premiums to workers who lose a job between April and December 2010. The bill also would extend the ARRA’s additional federal funding for states’ Medicaid programs through June 2011. Senators also are expected to vote on an amendment to expand and extend – through March 2011 – the special federal fund that has helped California create thousands of jobs for low-income families and pay for rising costs in CalWORKs, the state’s welfare-to-work program.

Keeping these critical ARRA provisions going would be good news for California’s families and the state budget at a time when good news is sorely needed.

— Scott Graves

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