Thursday, July 23, 2009

Federal Stimulus Update

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke to legislators today on the status of the federal stimulus funds. Read the NCSL news story here. Locke's key points:

Even though there has been much criticism of the effect of the stimulus, Locke is confident that the Obama administration is on the right track.

*The administration's goal is to move 70% of the stimulus funds out to the states by September 2010. Today, 28% of the funds have been distributed.

*By the end of this summer, the administration will make $15 billion in grants to broadband, high speed rail and smart grid.

*Locke urges lawmakers to make utility regulation changes that encourage the use of renewable energy.

*He specifically supports more flexible pricing, where consumers would be charged more for usage in peak hours. This complements the use of the smart grid, where consumers can see for themselves their energy use in real time.

*Locke cited the upcoming U.S. Census which will start next year. This will not only provide a significant number of temporary jobs, but will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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