How the Stimulus Package can affect LA’s

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION How the Stimulus Package can affect LA’s

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    This was jsut sent out by the ASLA Advocacy Network and a big thank you goes out to the staff that helped to prepair it. Please become involved and join ASLA’s Advocacy Network. The Message below is long but has a lot of good information.

    President Obama Signs Stimulus LegislationMore Info

    Today, President Obama signed H.R. 1, The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which would provide approximately $789 billion in tax cuts and spending to help jumpstart our nation’s lagging economy. The White House and Congressional leaders estimate that the package would create or save 3.5 million jobs over next two years.

    After hearing from ASLA advocates, ASLA CEO Nancy Somerville, and other allied professional organizations about the job creation associated with and benefits of community parks and highway beautification projects, Congress adopted a final stimulus package that does not include language to prohibit stimulus funds from being used for community parks or highway beautification projects. However, the final bill does prohibit stimulus fund for certain other recreational projects. In particular, the bill states that “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.”

    The final stimulus package also includes a number of other provisions important to landscape architects:

    The National Park Service

    The measure provides the National Park Service (NPS) about $750 million to complete infrastructure projects – like roads, bridges, and trails – in national parks. ASLA contacted legislators about concern for their eliminating $200 million for the repair and rehabilitation of the National Mall in the House version of the bill. While this funding for the Mall was not re-instated in the final stimulus package, a portion of NPS infrastructure funding could be used to begin the much-need work on the deteriorating National Mall. The Interior Department estimates that its portion of stimulus funds would generate about 100,000 jobs over the next two years.

    Funds for wildfire management, including forest health protection on federal and state lands and private forests would be administered through the Department of Agriculture.

    Transportation Infrastructure Programs

    The bill appropriates $48 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT) for transportation and infrastructure improvements, including highway projects and mass transit. Funds include $27.5 billion for “ready to go” highway infrastructure projects under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), including $1.5 billion in discretionary grants for road, bridge, and rail projects. Of the $27.5 billion, $170 million will be used for park roads and parkways and $20 million will be used for highway surface transportation and technology. A total of $8.4 billion will go towards the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for mass transit projects, including $6.9 billion in transit capital assistance grants.

    The bill would require three percent of funds appropriated under the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Infrastructure Investment program in the bill be set aside for Surface Transportation Programs (STP), including the Transportation Enhancement Program.

    Environmental Protection Agency

    The bill also provides about $6 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which provides grants to states for wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment projects. This provision requires that at least 20% of these funds be used for projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements or other environmental activities. The EPA also received about $100 million for brownfields restoration projects.

    Energy Efficiency

    The stimulus package includes $20 billion in tax incentives to spur investment in renewable and alternative energy, aimed at “green” jobs to make wind turbines, solar panels and to improve energy efficiency in schools and federal buildings. The measure also appropriates $5.5 billion for federal building construction and repair projects, with an emphasis on projects that achieve high levels of energy efficiency.

    Army Corps of Engineers

    The bill also provides about $4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers for construction, operation, and maintenance of the nation’s flood control and navigation infrastructure, as well as the construction of environmental restoration projects.

    Tax Incentives for Small Business

    The final measure contains two major tax incentives for small businesses: accelerated depreciation and increased expensing. Under the accelerated depreciation incentive, small business owners may take a 50% bonus allowance on 2008 capital asset purchases acquired in that year. The remainder of the asset can be deprecated under the regular rules. With the new increased expensing rule, businesses may elect to treat certain assets as an expense (known as Section 179), and deduct it in the year the property was placed in service, instead of depreciating it over several years. Business owners may expense up to $250,000 in Section 179 assets purchased in the tax year beginning in 2008, nearly doubling the previous expensing limit.

    The final version of the bill is accessible on the Library of Congress web site (Part 1 and Part 2). Please contact ASLA’s Government Affairs staff if you have any further questions.

    Roxanne Blackwell
    ASLA Federal Government Affairs Manager

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