Federal Stimulus | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal Stimulus

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 26, 2009 - As of this writing, former financial genius Bernard Madoff sits in the clink awaiting sentencing for defrauding investors of about $50 billion-$65 billon. His attorneys have appealed his incarceration, arguing that justice would be better served were he allowed to reside in his penthouse during this transitional period rather than in a facility designed for less accomplished criminals.

Thus far, the judiciary has been unsympathetic.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Vice President Joe Biden declared here Wednesday that the best cure for the nation's economic ills was to step up the transportation and construction spending that made America great. 

Courtesy McCormack Baron Salazar

A historic St. Louis School building has a new lease on life as a new development in north city’s 22nd Ward.

The Arlington School, designed by pioneering St. Louis Architect William Ittner was built in 1898.  The school was closed in 1994 and fell into extreme disrepair.  I filed a story for NPR in 2009 about ten of Ittner's schools, including Arlington, which were facing uncertain futures.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2012 - HANNIBAL -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., dropped her prepared speech today to challenge instead her Republican rivals to disavow remarks by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, in which he referred to a young woman law student as a "slut" and "prostitute" because she had testified in favor of free coverage of contraceptives.

Stimulus help to states comes to a close

Jun 29, 2011
(via Flickr/iChaz)

A federal stimulus program to help stabilize state budgets is coming to a close tomorrow. The government provided some $90 billion in emergency funds to help state government get past collapsing tax revenues, and help pay for such services as education and health care. Now, states are having to slash spending.

Adam Allington reports for Marketplace, that states are bracing for some painfully difficult decisions. When it comes to making some budget cuts, their hands are tied.

Listen for the report tonight on Marketplace, starting at 6 p.m.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 15, 2011 - Growing up in a small town in southeast Missouri, life often felt painfully slow. Amusement was limited to the bowling alley, the skating rink and four movie screens. At least twice a year, however, a carnival passed through town. I found the mixture of bright lights, rickety rides and sugary concoctions nearly intoxicating, but the games were my real vice.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 4, 2011 - At 10 p.m. Tuesday, state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, was discussing gun rights and the differences between bibliographies and footnotes. And whether to use his "NPR voice."

Earlier, state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, spent part of his self-proclaimed "shift" reading from the bible.

Harrison Sweazea, Mo. Senate Communications Office

Updated 1:32 p.m. May 4:

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says the all-night filibuster in the Missouri Senate of a capital improvements bill containing federal stimulus funds was "political theatrics."

McCaskill, a Democrat, says she understands that the four Republican Senators are trying to send a message to Washington, and that message has been received loud and clear.

"The people that they're really filibustering against are the people of Missouri, because those projects that are funded are creating jobs," McCaskill said. "Our economy is recovering and most importantly it's funding public education in Missouri."

Updated:  7:00 a.m. May 4:

A group of four Republican senators have ended their all-night filibuster of a capital improvements bill that contains more than $465 million in federal stimulus funds.

They began blocking the bill Tuesday afternoon after their attempt to shrink the bill by $41 million was rebuffed by the Senate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 7, 2011 - A group of Missouri state senators agreed today to drop their filibuster of a bill that authorizes the state to accept and distribute $105 million in federal stimulus money earmarked for the extension of unemployment benefits.

But in exchange, Senate Republican leaders agreed to seek $250 million in cuts in other federal stimulus spending.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 4, 2011 - The filibuster now taking place in the Missouri Senate could hurt the pocketbooks of St. Louis area school districts, which stand to gain a large chunk of the $189 million in federal grant money that some Republican legislators want to refuse.

Mo. lags in use of stimulus for energy projects

Mar 15, 2011
(via Flickr/yomanimus)

Missouri is lagging in its use of federal stimulus money intended to make homes more energy efficient for low-income residents.

Missouri received nearly $129 million in home weatherization funds for low-income residents under the 2009 federal stimulus bill. As of the end of January, just $47 million of that had been spent. That amounts to 37 percent of the total.

Good morning! Here are a few of today's starting headlines:

  • Missouri lawmakers are preparing to start redrawing the state's congressional districts. Officials said Monday they expect to get more detailed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau this week. Missouri is losing one of its nine congressional districts, based on the statewide population figures released earlier. The new details of where people are living will hep the Legislature as it draws the eight new districts. The chairmen of the House and Senate  redistricting committees are planning to hold public hearings in several places around Missouri. They hope to complete the hearings in the next couple of weeks and will begin developing new congressional maps after that.
  • The Missouri House is to begin debate soon on a plan to use $189 million of additional federal stimulus money for public schools. The House plan would use some of that money to offset shortfalls in casino tax revenues that were to go to schools. But most of the additional federal money would be used to offset state revenues already budgeted for schools this year  - allowing the state money to be saved and distributed to schools next year. House Majority Leader Tim Jones said the chamber could debate the legislation as soon as Tuesday. The House plan would maintain a more steady funding stream for schools than one originally proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon. His plan would have boosted school funding this year and cut it next year.
  • According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Humane Society of Missouri has received custody of 74 dogs from a licensed breeder after investigators found the dogs malnourished and living in their own waste. State investigators found the Collies and Bichon Frises living in crates in a double-wide trailer on the breeder's Stone County property in southwest Missouri. One dog had to euthanized. The Post-Dispatch reports that examinations found several of the dogs suffered from dehydration, malnutrition, ear and respiratory infections, as well as internal parasites.

Cheers, jeers mark stimulus plan's second birthday

Feb 17, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2011 - WASHINGTON - Did it save the nation from economic collapse, or did it run up a spending tab so big that it will take decades to pay the bill?

Two years after President Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus bill -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- into law, Republicans and Democrats viewed the $816 billion plan through completely different lenses.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 18, 2010 - When the $787 billion federal stimulus bill won approval in Congress in February of last year, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, said that the "whopping price" was too much, and he talked of an "ethical question" about participating in a process he considers wasteful of taxpayer money.

But as federal officials began to decide where the money should go, Akin swallowed his opposition. He wrote a letter to Laurence E. Strickling, an assistant secretary in the Commerce Department, urging that some of the funds should go to a business in his 2nd District, as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 15, 2010 - After more than an hour of debate, the Missouri House failed to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill setting up special accounts to handle the latest round of federal stimulus money that the state is to receive.

The final tally was 85-68 in favor of the override. That's 24 votes short of the 109 needed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 14, 2010 - When Missouri's legislators gather Wednesday in Jefferson City, expect to hear a lot of talk about a film festival last weekend in Warrensburg, Mo. that was funded with $100,000 in federal stimulus funds.

State House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, cites the festival as a poor use of federal money -- and an example of why the state Legislature should have a stronger say in how federal stimulus money is spent.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 13, 2010 -2Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was quick to thank the U.S. House Tuesday for its vote in favor of a bill allocating $26 billion to the states to stem projected teacher layoffs and Medicaid cuts, in the wake of the continued economic downturn.

In Missouri's case, more than half of its expected share will go toward the next fiscal year's budget, said state Budget Director Linda Luebbering in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 8, 2010 - I recently Googled myself. The process was not nearly as painful as it sounds. Simply type in your name, click on "search" and -- presto -- you find out where you stand in cyberspace.

Being a son of the 20th century, I can't be found on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites. Some of us still believe in the virtues of keeping details of your private life, well, private. However, a lot of the stuff I've written over the years is still floating around out there.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 11, 2010 - The first anniversary of the $787 billion federal stimulus program, in mid-February, set off lots of arguments, pro and con, about its worth. But among officials at the area's major universities, there has been no debate about the value of the program. They all say the funding has made a big difference in starting up or continuing important research that benefits everyone.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2010 - U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt -- Missouri's best-known Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is capping a busy week by launching today a " 19-city 'Jobs for Missouri's Future' bus tour" in which he plans to " visit with workers and small business owners to discuss solutions to help create jobs for Missourians right now."

The tour begins this morning in Sedalia (home of the Missouri State Fair). Blunt, R-Springfield, provided no specifics of the individual stops during Thursday night's surprise announcement of the trip, other than to list the cities on his tour. They include St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2010 - While President Barack Obama is marking the one-year anniversary of congressional approval of the federal $800 billion stimulus package in Washington, politicians on both sides are also talking economics back in Missouri.

By coincidence or design, Gov. Jay Nixon, a fellow Democrat, was in town today to promote state efforts to help local small businesses. And across the state, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, is coming under Democratic fire because he appeared at the groundbreaking for a project partially funded with federal stimulus money, which Blunt had opposed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 3, 2010 - In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama came out swinging. He recognized and validated the considerable anger abroad in the land. Stepping away from his almost professorial style, he attempted to staunch the movement of independents away from him and his party.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2010 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon couldn't have been more enthused today as he regaled St. Louis-area elected officials with predictions of what a high-speed rail line to Chicago could mean.

"You really can't overestimate how extraordinary this moment is,'' the governor said, at a news conference at the St. Louis Amtrak station to lay out the details of the $1.1 billion federal grant to help start work on the line.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 13, 2009 - For 90 minutes, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt -- the best-known Missouri Republican running for the U.S. Senate -- underwent an aggressive grilling Thursday night from the suburban party activists who he acknowledged he'll need to win next year.

In return, he sought to sell himself as a tight-fisted conservative with modest roots and broad experience.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 30, 2009 - Four St. Louis development entities are sharing in $250 million in federal urban investment tax breaks awarded Friday.

In a joint release, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay announced the awards, which are part of $5 billion to be doled out to 90 recipients.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2009 - Taxpayers have 787 billion reasons to care about where money from the federal stimulus package is going, but finding the answers isn't always easy.

Since Congress approved $787 billion in February to help the country recover from a recession whose depth was far from clear, state and local governments as well as private businesses, schools and others have submitted applications for the funds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 15, 2009 - With St. Louis area police and firefighters serving as a backdrop, Vice President Joe Biden offered assurances Thursday about the state of the nation's economy -- and the need for hefty federal spending to put it back on track.

"The conversation is not whether we will have a recovery, but what shape it will take," Biden said in an address to about 200 people at the St. Louis County Police and Fire Training Center in Wellston.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 14, 2009 - On one hand, the decision by the Obama administration to build thousands of federally subsidized rental units in American cities for low- and moderate-income families has been welcomed by nonprofit organizations that work with St. Louisans displaced by foreclosure.

On the other hand, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan's acknowledgment that not everyone can or should own a home is being seen as a major policy shift from the Bush administration's emphasis on expanding minority homeownership as a means of accumulating generational wealth.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 30, 2009 - After holding out longer than he originally planned, Dan McCoy finally bought his first home in June for $172,000 -- a four bedroom in Clifton Heights that had been on the market for roughly a year, during which the original asking price dropped by more than $35,000.

Rather than buying a house in the summer of 2008, McCoy, 28, and his wife, Diana, 27, decided to rent a year longer in the Central West End and save for their big purchase. During that time, not only did property values drop but a new incentive caught their attention: an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers that went into effect earlier this year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - With two exceptions, Missouri's congressional delegation split along party lines when it came to a last-minute effort Friday to add $2 billion to the federal Cash for Clunkers program.

The program allows people to get incentives of up to $4,500 if they trade in a car with low gas mileage to purchase a new one that gets more miles to the gallon.