WBEZ | Stimulus http://www.wbez.org/tags/stimulus Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Stimulus dollars insulate Chicago homes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/stimulus-dollars-insulate-chicago-homes-105178 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34610267@N05/8422342948/in/photostream/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/energy-impact-basement-window2.jpg" title="Huddled in their neighbors’ basement, guests learned about energy efficiency from contractor Anthony Stonis. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></a></p><p>The Avondale home of artists <a href="http://iamlogansquare.com/directory/green-city-artists">Marvin Tate and Lucy Mueller</a> has a certain kind of warmth &mdash; the couple&rsquo;s art fills their brightly painted rooms, which are replete with found objects, sculptures and photographs. A look through an infrared scanner, however, shows the building&rsquo;s coziness belies its abysmal energy efficiency rating.</p><p>Tate and Mueller weren&rsquo;t alone when contractors told them Saturday that their home leaked 69 percent more air than recommended. The two had gathered a small group of friends and neighbors for an energy efficiency &ldquo;house party,&rdquo; agreeing to host a short presentation by <a href="http://energyimpactillinois.org/" target="_blank">Energy Impact Illinois</a> representative Rob Geltner in exchange for a free energy efficiency assessment.</p><p>Energy Impact Illinois is a partnership between non-profits, utilities, the state of Illinois and the federal government that promotes energy efficiency retrofits. Since last fall the program has offered instant rebates to homeowners who undertake substantial retrofits using approved contractors. That money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to get some of the stimulus money back in the hands of the homeowners,&rdquo; Geltner said. The average cost of air sealing and reinsulating a leaky home, he told the group gathered Saturday, is $2500, but Energy Impact Illinois offers rebates up $1750. Retrofitted homes typically save $500 each year on their utility bills, offsetting the out-of-pocket expense in less than two years. And the home becomes more comfortable immediately.</p><p>Part of the program&rsquo;s strategy is to target only the most cost-effective solutions. That&rsquo;s where the certified contractors come in. Replacing a home&rsquo;s leaky windows, for example, can cost tens of thousands of dollars and yield a relatively minor improvement if the building isn&rsquo;t first properly insulated. If retrofitting a home is like a series of visits to the doctor, the initial assessment performed Saturday includes a physical and a possible prescription. Contractors will do a check-up after the homeowner goes through with any retrofit work.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34610267@N05/8422330662/in/photostream"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/energy-impact-window2.jpg" title="Anthony Stonis shows off infrared images that reveal the living room's leakiest areas. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></a></div><p>Anthony Stonis, president of Building Energy Experts, pointed to an infrared image of Tate and Mueller&rsquo;s bathroom wall &mdash; blue, green and yellow splotches clustered around the window like bruises, revealing where the house was losing heat. The workers who built the home&rsquo;s addition, which houses the kitchen and bathroom, did not properly seal the building. It&rsquo;s a common mistake, Stonis said, to assume that insulation alone is enough to retain heat. If the building isn&rsquo;t sealed, however, air will find a way out.</p><p>&ldquo;Think of it as going out on a cold day with your puffy jacket on but not zipped up,&rdquo; Stonis said, making his way down to the basement. &ldquo;We want to zip it up and then put another jacket on over it.&rdquo;</p><p>Part of the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/env/retrofit_chicago.html">Retrofit Chicago</a> initiative, Energy Impact Illinois has begun to make headway in reducing energy waste among the region&rsquo;s aging building stock. Stonis said about a quarter of his customers come through the program. Approaching a kind of fiscal cliff when the Recovery Act grant money tapers off this spring, however, Energy Impact Illinois and <a href="http://nextcity.org/forefront/view/home-economics">similar initiatives around the country</a> face an uncertain future.</p><p>Until then, Geltner said, they will focus on expanding the program&rsquo;s reach. They have tried traditional advertising, but &ldquo;house parties&rdquo; like Tate and Mueller&rsquo;s have been much more effective. Word of mouth is poweful, but so is the scope of the problem they hope to address; the nation&#39;s single-family homes contribute nearly as much as transportation&nbsp;to our collective carbon footprint.</p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34610267@N05/8422349488/in/photostream/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/energy-impact-living-room.jpg" title="Rob Geltner explains Energy Impact Illinois to residents of Logan Square and Avondale gather in the home of Marvin Tate and Lucy Mueller. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></a></p></p> Tue, 29 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/stimulus-dollars-insulate-chicago-homes-105178 Jackson pushes Obama to focus on construction http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-05/Jesse Jackson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As President Obama gears up for a Thursday speech before Congress about his jobs agenda, a civil rights leader in his hometown is urging him to focus on proposing massive investment in construction projects.</p><p>With official unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the president is expected to propose training for the long-term jobless, tax credits for companies that hire new workers and an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.</p><p>Rev. Jesse Jackson said those steps won’t be enough. “You put people back to work fixing our infrastructure, our houses and our transportation,” he said. “We work our way out of the hole. We don’t complain our way out. [President Obama] has the key to, in fact, invest in a mammoth way in putting America back to work.”</p><p>In a Monday speech to Detroit union activists, the president did bring up infrastructure. But Republicans, who control the U.S. House, are indicating they will try to block new outlays that would add to the budget deficit.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 Stimulus funds now available to train health care professionals http://www.wbez.org/ltalleyatcpr/2009/07/stimulus-funds-now-available-to-train-health-care-professionals/7384 <p>Hey students! Funding for health care industry training may have gotten a little bit easier. <a href="http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/07/20090728c.html" target="_blank">The Department of Health &amp; Human Services</a> announced Tuesday the availability of $200 million in stimulus funds to increase training for health care professionals. David Bowman is a spokesman for <a href="http://www.hrsa.gov/" target="_blank">Health Resources and Services Administration</a> (HRSA). He says the program plans to help about 8,000 students and credentialed health care professionals by the end of fiscal year 2010 in the form of grants, loans, loan repayment and scholarships. Bowman says funds in the nationwide program will be awarded primarily to academic institutions. What does this mean for you -- the aspiring health care professional? Let's break it down: -$80.2 million will go to scholarships, loans, loan repayment for students, health professionals and faculty: $39 million of that will go to nurses and nurse faculty $40 million to disadvantaged students $1.2 million to faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds -$50 million for health professions training programs like purchasing equipment to improve the quality of training programs -$47.6 million for residents, medical students, physician assistants, dentists and people who practice in underserved areas -$10.5 million to support public health traineeships and increase preventative medicine training and dental public health residencies -$10.2 million to increase diversity in the health care workforce -$1.5 million to support state professional licensing boards in reducing barriers to telemedicine <a href="http://www.recovery.gov/" target="_blank">ARRA </a>awarded HRSA with $500 million in stimulus funds. The other $300 million is allotted for HRSA's <a href="http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/" target="_blank">National Health Service Corps</a>. That program offers scholarships and loan repayment to primary care providers in professional shortage areas. Check back on the blog and <a href="http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/grants.htm" target="_blank">HRSA's Web site</a><a title="http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/grants.htm" href="http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/grants.htm"></a> for updates to see if your institution is included.</p> Thu, 30 Jul 2009 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ltalleyatcpr/2009/07/stimulus-funds-now-available-to-train-health-care-professionals/7384 Chicago Will Use Stimulus Dollars to Hire &quot;Hard-to-Employ&quot; http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/07/chicago-will-use-stimulus-dollars-to-hire-hard-to-employ/7381 <p>From the City of Chicago <a href="http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?BV_SessionID=@@@@0229420907.1248453601@@@@&amp;BV_EngineID=ccccadehlhfjklhcefecelldffhdfho.0&amp;contentOID=537053242&amp;contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&amp;topChannelName=Dept&amp;blockName=Family+Support+Services%2FI+Want+To&amp;context=dept&amp;channelId=0&amp;programId=0&amp;entityName=Family+Support+Services&amp;deptMainCategoryOID=">Department of Family and Support Services</a>: "City of Chicago Announces $3.75 Million in Stimulus Funding to Provide Jobs and Job Training for Hard-To-Employ Populations (July 23, 2009) -- The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services has announced plans to utilize $3.75 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the Neighborhood Clean-Up Initiative that will provide year-round jobs and job-training services to Chicago's hard-to-employ populations, with an emphasis on the formerly incarcerated. In addition, the City released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify agencies that will serve to provide participants with job-readiness skills and the knowledge necessary to meet the demands of the work services projects. The RFP is available online at www.cityofchicago.org/recovery now through August 24. "The Neighborhood Clean-Up Initiative, supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will provide individuals who have had difficulties transitioning back into the workplace with an opportunity to regain their independence," said Commissioner Mary Ellen Caron, Ph.D., Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. "By providing job-training and placement to our hard-to-employ populations, we can support them on their path to self-sufficiency and a better life." For the next two years approximately 230 individuals will have the opportunity to serve in the City's Neighborhood Clean-Up Initiative, one of several second chance programs operated in cooperation with the Chicago Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation. This new opportunity will provide participants with practical work experience and marketable skills in the fields of vegetation control, debris removal and the cleaning of neighborhood commercial strips. Workers will receive extensive hands-on training so that they can effectively operate equipment such as gas powered weed wackers; mowers; hand saws; pruners; lopers; edgers; de-weeding devices and picks. They will also learn the necessary safety training to ensure that they are in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards. This RFP is a competitive process open to all entities: non-profit, for-profit, faith-based, private and public. The term of contracts executed under this RFP will be from October 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012. DFSS will host a Bidders Conference to provide more details about the RFP on Thursday, July 30, 2009, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Community Service Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Avenue. DFSS will also provide technical assistance to agencies not familiar with the RFP process. For more information on the Neighborhood Clean-Up RFP, please call the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services at 312-746-8853 or visit www.cityofchicago.org/fss. For more information about the range of services and programs available to hard-to-employ populations and the formerly incarcerated, please contact one of the City of Chicago's Community Reentry Support Centers: Westside Health Authority (773-664-0612) or Teamwork Englewood (773-602-4513). The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services is dedicated to supporting a continuum of coordinated services to enhance the lives of Chicago residents, particularly those most in need, from birth through the senior years. "</p> Fri, 24 Jul 2009 10:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/07/chicago-will-use-stimulus-dollars-to-hire-hard-to-employ/7381 DOT Inspector General recommends annual testing to monitor ARRA funds http://www.wbez.org/ltalleyatcpr/2009/07/dot-inspector-general-recommends-annual-testing-to-monitor-arra-funds/7373 <p>About 77 percent, or $37 billion, of the Department of Transportation's stimulus funds will be funneled through major grant programs, but, according to a <a href="http://www.recovery.gov/sites/default/files/ARRA+Advisory+AA--2009--002--IPIA+Sampling+508.pdf" target="_blank">memo</a> from Calvin Scovel, DOT Inspector General, some of these programs have been at risk of improper payments. The Inspector General recommends annual testing of a wider range of DOT contracts to insure ARRA funds are properly distributed. The Office of Inspector General has a hotline for reporting allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement in DOT programs. <a href="https://www.oig.dot.gov/hotlineform.jsp" target="_blank">On-line Complaint Form</a> Call 1-800-424-9071 (toll free). Fax your concerns to 540-373-2090. E-mail your concerns to <a href="mailto:hotline@oig.dot.gov">hotline@oig.dot.gov</a> Mail your concerns to: DOT Inspector General, P.O. Box 708, Fredericksburg, VA 22404</p> Wed, 08 Jul 2009 13:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ltalleyatcpr/2009/07/dot-inspector-general-recommends-annual-testing-to-monitor-arra-funds/7373 Veterans Get Stimulus Dollars http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/veterans-get-stimulus-dollars/7367 <p><p style="text-align:left;"><em><span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">From the Department of Veterans Affairs: </span></em></p> <span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">"WASHINGTON</span><span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">‚  -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has requested the Department of the Treasury to make $250 payments to eligible Veterans as part of President Obama's recovery plan. ‚ The first payments were sent Monday, June 22.‚ ‚ All payments will be distributed by June 30.</span> <span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">As part of the recovery plan, VA is making one-time payments of $250 to eligible Veterans and survivors to offset the effects of the current economy.‚ ‚ VA estimates $500 million in payments will be made to approximately 1.9 million Veterans and eligible beneficiaries as part of this measure.</span> <span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">To be eligible for the payment, VA beneficiaries must have received VA's compensation, pension, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), or spina bifida benefits at any time between November 2008 and January 2009.‚ ‚ Also, beneficiaries must reside within the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa‚ or the U.S. Virgin Islands. ‚ </span> <span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">No application is necessary.‚ ‚ VA used its existing payment records to determine eligibility for the $250 payment.‚ ‚ Beneficiaries will receive their payments the same way they receive their monthly VA benefits -- either by direct deposit or in the mail.‚ ‚ </span> <span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">This payment is not countable in determining eligibility for VA pension or Parents' DIC.‚ ‚ The law allows one $250 payment per person.‚ ‚ The payment is tax-free.‚ ‚ VA beneficiaries who also receive benefits from the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Board will be paid through those agencies, and will therefore not receive the payment from VA.</span> <span style="font-size:x-small;font-family:Arial;">VA will spend more than $1.4 billion as part of President Obama's economic recovery plan to improve services to America's Veterans.‚ ‚ VA's Internet site -- <a href="http://www.va.gov/recovery"><span style="font-size:x-small;color:#800080;font-family:Arial;">www.va.gov/recovery</span></a>‚  -- provides current information about VA's work to deliver its portion of recovery act funds to benefit Veterans."‚ </span></p> Mon, 29 Jun 2009 09:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/veterans-get-stimulus-dollars/7367 Chicago Gets $34 Million for Job Training http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/chicago-gets-34-million-for-job-training/7353 <p><table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="6" width="100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="text-align:left;">From Chicago: <a href="http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?BV_SessionID=@@@@1427146179.1243884285@@@@&amp;BV_EngineID=ccceadehglihkhkcefecelldffhdfif.0&amp;contentOID=537045475&amp;contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&amp;topChannelName=Dept&amp;blockName=Workforce+Development%2FI+Want+To&amp;context=dept&amp;channelId=0&amp;programId=0&amp;entityName=Workforce+Development&amp;deptMainCategoryOID=">Federal funding to provide job search, training assistance</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced the City will receive approximately $34 million from a combination of federal sources to provide job search and job training services for Chicagoans struggling to remain economically secure during the difficult economic times. "With most people in agreement that an economic turnaround is a long way off, we are facing a new problem: more people than ever before need support from our workforce development system," Daley said in a news conference held at the Greater West Town Community Development Project, a job training center at 2031 W. Fulton St. "This includes a broad range of Chicagoans: not only disadvantaged populations, such as ex-offenders and the homeless, but also young people, blue collar workers and white collar workers," he said. The mayor said that the City's Department of Community Development will receive the money starting now and continuing over the next several months. It will be used to provide assistance to Chicago residents through summer, 2010. Overall, the funding the City receives will provide job search, job training and job placement services to approximately 7,500 job seekers and training for 3,400 residents -- about 5,000 more people than the City was able to help last year. The $34 million comes from two sources: ‚  <li>$17.8 million through the American Recovery &amp; Reinvestment Act</li> <li>An estimated $16 million through the regular annual distribution of Workforce Investment Act fundsThe funds will be used to assist low income adults who meet certain income guidelines and any other people who have recently lost their jobs. Starting in July, $17.7 million will be used to expand job training programs, including: ‚ </li> <li>Tuition assistance for job training programs</li> <li>"Bridge" programs to provide basic reading and math skills for low literacy residents</li> <li>Programs to prepare for "green" jobs and jobs in fields with skills shortages, such as health care, information technology and transportation</li> <li>Assistance for residents who are employed but need to upgrade their skills</li> <li>Career counseling programs The City will also use $16.2 million to expand its WorkNet Chicago System, which provides job search and training assistance through five WorkNet Centers, through its manufacturing and service centers and through 22 delegate agencies covering more than 30 neighborhoods throughout the city. "Our workforce centers are often the first place an unemployed or laid off person goes to get help from the City, which is why we wanted to make sure the stimulus dollars went there first," Daley said. The centers offer free services to residents, such as skills assessments, job search assistance, help in creating resumes, and access to other support, such as help with transportation costs. They are also the places local businesses go to find a skilled workforce. The WorkNet Centers and manufacturing and service sector centers have already received about $8 million of the federal funds and are ramping up capacity to serve more residents. The remaining funds will be allocated to the 22 delegate agencies beginning in July. "I want to encourage unemployed or paid off Chicago residents to visit the five Chicago Workforce Centers and the two sector centers now," Daley said. "More people than ever need jobs, education and training. They need opportunities. With this federal support, we will aim to help them improve their skills, find work and support themselves and their families," he said. To further strengthen the City's commitment to enhancing workforce development during these challenging economic times, Daley also announced the City has established the Chicago Workforce Investment Council, composed of business, education and civic leaders who will help provide strategic advice on workforce-related investments citywide. The Council will help oversee distribution of the $300 million in public funds spent annually in Chicago on workforce development in addition to the federal stimulus dollars. Complete information about workforce programs can be found on the City's website or by calling 311. All Chicago Workforce Centers are open Monday through Friday, closed weekends and holidays. Orientation times for each Workforce Center are listed below. Please call ahead to confirm these times, as they are subject to change without advance notice. Chicago Workforce Center -- North Side 4740 N. Sheridan 773-334-4747 TTY: 773-334-9804 Orientation: 9:00am - Monday through Thursday Chicago Workforce Center - Garfield 10 S. Kedzie, Room 134 773-722-3885 TTY: 773-722-6081 Orientation: 9:00am -- Monday through Thursday Chicago Workforce Center - Pilsen 1657 S. Blue Island 312-243-5100 or 312-265-5695 TTY: 312-738-0766 Orientation: 8:30am -- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Chicago Workforce Center - Mid-South 4314 S. Cottage Grove 773-538-5627 TTY: 773-538-8260 Orientation: 8:45am -- Monday through Thursday Chicago Workforce Center - Southwest 7500 S. Pulaski, Bldg 100 773-884-7000 TTY: 773-884-0269 Orientation: 8:30am -- Monday through Thursday Chicago ManufacturingWorks Center 2800 S. Western Ave, Suite 1309 773-523-2516 TTY: None Orientation: Offered As Needed (Center Hours are 9:00 am - 5:00 pm) Chicago ServiceWorks Center 500 N. Dearborn St. Suite 850 312-494-9346 TTY: None</li> </td> </tr> </tbody></table></p> Mon, 01 Jun 2009 13:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/chicago-gets-34-million-for-job-training/7353 Putting Stimulus Money To Work For You http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/05/putting-stimulus-money-to-work-for-you/7351 <p>The ARRA isn't just about grants, govenment jobs and massive projects-- The City of Chicago published this flyer: "<a href="http://www.explorechicago.org/etc/medialib/explore_chicago/press_office/for_american_recovery.Par.93653.File.dat/31302B_37_Stimulus_BW.pdf">How Can the Stimulus Help Me</a>" with information about COBRA, unemployment benefits, Pell grants, food stamps, social security, and tax credits. You can find more about changes to the tax code <a href="http://www.irs.gov/">here</a>. The WSJ also published this useful article: <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123492260467605495.html">What's in the Stimulus for You</a> Measure Provides Tax Credits, College Help, Cobra Subsidy, AMT Patch Consumers get spending money and a helping hand with some key expenses under President Obama's stimulus plan. <div id="articleTabs_panel_article"> <div id="article_story"> <div id="article_story_body"> <div> By far the biggest tax piece in the plan is the Making Work Pay tax credit. It would put a bit of cash into pockets, probably by having employers withhold less tax. Each eligible worker would get 6.2% of earned income up to a maximum credit of $400 ($800 for two-earner couples). So folks would see an extra $12 to $20 per weekly paycheck, depending on whether the government pays it out over six months or more. Many taxpayers will get the Making Work Pay credit, though it isn't open to anyone who earns more than $95,000 ($190,000 for couples). Its slow-drip approach is likely to stimulate spending, according to some tax experts. In hard times, people tend to stash a larger windfall in a savings account, says Roberton Williams, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. An extra $20 each week, however, is more likely to get spent at the movies or on a piece of clothing. First-time homebuyers also get a tax break under the plan. A credit would allow them to subtract $8,000 from the income tax they owe for 2009 for a principal residence purchased through Nov. 30, 2009. It phases out for individuals with adjusted gross income between $75,000 and $95,000 ($150,000 and $170,000 for joint filers). The credit is also available to taxpayers who haven't owned a home in a three-year period. The homebuyer credit doesn't have to be repaid if the home isn't sold for at least 36 months. Taxpayers also get help on the alternative minimum tax. The bill increases the AMT exemption to $46,700 for individuals (up from $46,200) in 2008, and $70,950 for married couples (up from $69,950.) Without the patch, 30.3 million taxpayers would owe AMT in 2009; with it, the number falls to 4.6 million, according to Mr. Williams. People who lost a job will get help. The first $2,400 of unemployment tax compensation received during 2009 won't be subject to income tax under the plan; currently all unemployment payments are taxed. Car buyers also get a break. A provision allows taxpayers to deduct from income tax the sales tax paid on a new car. The above-the-line deduction for state and local sales tax applies to new car purchases up to $49,500 from the date the stimulus is enacted through the end of 2009. Taxpayers who claim the existing itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes can't claim this new deduction. The deduction phases out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes between $125,000 and $135,000, and married couples filing jointly with AGI between $250,000 and $260,000. Laid-off workers will be better able to afford health coverage because the bill slashes 65% from the cost of maintaining insurance through a former employer. Coverage would be subsidized for up to nine months. Workers are already guaranteed the right to extend their job-related health coverage for up to 18 months under a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or Cobra. The law applies to companies with 20 or more workers that are continuing to offer a group health plan. The problem is, it's too expensive: about $370 a month for individual coverage and $1,000 a month for a family. The 65% subsidy would lower the cost of Cobra premiums to about $130 a month for single coverage and $350 a month for a family, based on 2008 data from a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research &amp; Educational Trust. To qualify, workers must have been laid off between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. Participants must attest that their annual income in the year they receive the subsidy won't exceed $125,000 for single people or $250,000 for couples who file jointly. Workers laid off from September onwards who declined Cobra will get another chance to enroll. An education-related item in the package is the American Opportunity education tax credit, replacing what's known as the Hope Credit. It would give a $2,500 partially refundable credit to cover each of four years of college. Previously, taxpayers were given a nonrefundable credit of up to $1,800 for each of the first two years of college. The new credit would help people going to school, but not very quickly, because they couldn't collect it until filing a tax return in 2010. The new credit only applies to 2009 and 2010; after 2010, the law reverts to the Hope credit unless the new credit is extended. Families can use withdrawals from 529 college savings plans in 2009 and 2010 for computers and computer technology. Until now, families could use 529 money for computers only if colleges required students to have a computer. <strong>Write to </strong>Arden Dale at <a href="mailto:arden.dale@dowjones.com">arden.dale@dowjones.com</a> and Jilian Mincer at <a href="mailto:jilian.mincer@dowjones.com">jilian.mincer@dowjones.com</a> <a name="CX"></a><strong>Corrections &amp; Amplifications</strong> Subject to certain income limitations, first-time homebuyers or those who haven't owned a home in a three-year period are eligible for a tax credit under President Obama's stimulus plan if they buy a principal residence by Nov. 30, 2009. A previous version of this article incorrectly said taxpayers who haven't purchased a home in the past three years are eligible, and misstated the purchasing deadline as Nov. 31, 2009.</div> </div> </div> </div></p> Fri, 29 May 2009 09:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/05/putting-stimulus-money-to-work-for-you/7351