Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – otherwise known as the Stimulus Package – by a vote of 244-188. Unless I completely missed something, all the disabilities-related provisions survived and were passed along with everything else. Yay!
Among other funding provisions in the legislation, some highlights are:
- $13 billion (with a ‘b’!) for the IDEA State Grant Program
- $600 million for Early Intervention
- $300 million for teachers in general
- $20 billion for school renovations and modernization
- $500 million for state grants for construction and rehab of facilities that help persons with disabilities prepare for gainful employment
- $200 million to assist people with disabilities to live in their communities
- $2.1 billion for Head Start
- $2 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants
- Billions for Medicaid, which is getting crushed under the weight of everyone now unemployed – including parents of special needs kids who have lost their jobs and have had to fall back on Medicaid to have any chance of affording their children’s treatments and therapies.
- Extension of unemployment benefits up to 33 weeks
and much more.
I am under no illusion that any of this is free money. However, people need to differentiate between government spending that invests in people, jobs, resuscitating the economy, and other things that bring a big return for each dollar spent vs. government spending that is like flushing money down the drain, like millions spent on research studies that conclude that oxygen really is good for America’s cows.
I don’t know everything that’s in this legislation, but I do know that the above provisions and many others are about investing in our children’s future – regardless of their abilities – and helping people who struggle to develop the skills needed for gainful employment realize that dream.
So far, the above provisions are largely – if not entirely – intact in the Senate version. However, things can change, and this is by no means an easy road for this legislation. Write your Senators even if you think they’ll certainly vote for it or against it. They need to hear our voices!
Thanks for your efforts so far. Keep up the good work!
If anyone has additional information, please post it in the comments.