Think tank says stimulus has provided net for hardest hit Virginians
The Commonwealth Institute has has released a study showing Virginians received $3 billion in direct aid due to provisions of the federal stimulus act. The report indicates that residents received the most aid in areas of the state hardest hit by the economic recession.
According to the analysis, Virginians received $1.9 billion through the Make Work Pay tax credit, a tax reimbursement for low and middle-income earners. Virginians also received $208 million through a provision of the act that has boosted benefits for those who qualify for food stamps. Another $589 million flowed directly to unemployed residents, though provisions that boosted unemployment benefits by $25 each week and extended the number of weeks the unemployed can receive benefits.
"This report shows the act has helped almost every household in Virginia," said Institute executive director Michael Cassidy. He said providing direct aid to the unemployed, those receiving food stamps and lower-income earners meant giving dollars to residents most likely to quickly spend the money on necessities in their communities, boosting the dollars stimulative impact.
"The mechanisms used to provide direct aid through the Recovery Act were ones that were targeted at people most in need," Cassidy said.
The report also concluded that communities with high unemployment rates received the most per capital aid. In Martinsville, where unemployment has reached 20 percent, the study found the act provided $7.6 million in aid, or $517 per every resident. But they found that every locality received significant dollars. Arlington residents received $75 million; Fairfax residents earned $346 million.
Cassidy said the report is intended to shape public discussion of the stimulus bill, which Republicans say has failed to spur economic recovery. Congress is now debating whether to extend some of the stimulus act's provisions, including the boosts in unemployment benefits. Cassidy said the study shows how residents have benefited from those provisions.
June 16, 2010; 11:56 AM ET
Categories: Rosalind Helderman
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