Posts Tagged: stimulus bill

Safety first, second, and third in Chicago

I wrote a piece a month ago that looked at how the city of Chicago’s focus on violent crime comes at the expense of other worthy issues. Here’s an example: Rebecca Vevea of the Chicago News Cooperative reports that Chicago Public Schools will continue to spend millions on “Safe Passage,” a program that helps students arrive and depart from school safely.

Obviously, there are worse uses of taxpayer money. But Safe Passage was a program launched by federal stimulus funds and those funds have run out. Does CPS really need to keep this additional safety program — for which $10 million has been set aside — when it faces a $612 million deficit?

The thinking man’s trash can

In its final weeks, the Richard M. Daley administration used federal stimulus funds to bolster Daley’s legacy as a green mayor and perhaps make the city’s very expensive Streets & Sanitation system a bit more efficient. The city will spend $2.2 million on solar-powered trash compactors from Massachusetts-based Big Belly Solar, reports Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times. Four hundred compactors will be located downtown and each will automatically sense when it is full and trigger a notification to the city. Philadelphia installed similar solar trash compactors and saved $900,000 in refuse removal costs in the plan’s first year.

High-speed rail*

In December, the Illinois Dept. of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad reached an agreement on high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, triggering the release of $1.1 billion in U.S. Dept. of Transportation money. But Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register reports that the rail service might not always be high-speed: Union Pacific will incur no penalties if freight trains on the Chicago to St. Louis rail line interfere with passenger service. Moreover, Union Pacific “expects to dramatically increase the number of freight trains on the line” because of a new freight terminal in Joliet, Illinois.

High-speed rail sounds futuristic, but this news reinforces that, unless some decisions are made to prioritize passenger routes, it won’t be too dramatic a change. (more…)

ACA means money for states

Twenty states have sued to block implementation of the national health care reform law and Wisconsin will soon make it twenty-one. Some states have even cited burdensome implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a reason to not provide Medicaid. However, John Bouman of the Shriver Center points out that three different studies (one was commissioned by the White House) show state governments will actually save money due to health care reform. The latest study, from the Urban Institute, asserts that states will save between $40 billion and $132 billion from 2014-2019.

Savings will mostly come from the shifting burden of Medicaid costs. (more…)

How the stimulus plays in Peoria

The 38-member Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies stopped in Peoria, IL in a statewide tour to explain how Illinois’ share of federal stimulus money has helped residents, reports Pam Adams of the Peoria, IL Journal Star. (more…)

Defending Medicaid

Yesterday I blogged that a debate on how much money to put toward Medicaid has shaped the Wisconsin gubernatorial race. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates in the Badger State pledge to reduce spending on the federal-state health program for the poor. Medicaid is also a central issue in the equally tight Illinois race for governor, but the positions are different. The State Journal-Register’s Chris Wetterich reports that the sitting Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s running mate, Sheila Simon, has vowed not to cut state spending on Medicaid through raising eligibility standards. (more…)

Medicaid payment pains in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is not in the kind of fiscal apocalypse that faces Illinois, but they have a big problem: Medicaid coverage has rapidly expanded and, for the next four years, the federal government won’t pick up enough of the tab. Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report that “Medicaid provides health care for one in five Wisconsin residents” and that “the group of programs has expanded faster here over the past nine years than in any state except Arizona.” The close battle for governor in Wisconsin has focused on how to lower Medicaid costs. (more…)

Obama to fund communist, er, community health care centers

Kathleen Sebelius

Here is just one of the evil, dastardly domestic discretionary funding programs concocted by the Obama administration and a Democratic Congress: money for community health centers that provide primary and preventive services for low-income people.  Illinois will get almost $46 million from the Affordable Care Act to support community health centers, reports ABC-7 Chicago. Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday that HHS will give $725 million to 143 community health centers across the country, money that will provide health care to an additional 745,000 people. (more…)

Quinn tries to keep Illinois at work

In lieu of expiring federal stimulus funds, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will spend $75 million in state cash to continue “Put Illinois to Work.” (more…)