Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Biden, Romer Release New Analysis of Impacts of Recovery Act: In NM Taxes Cut for 700K Famillies, 19,000 New Jobs

Vice President Joe Biden and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer are unveiling today the Council of Economic Advisers’ latest quarterly report on the economic impact of the Recovery Act. The report finds that the Recovery Act is already responsible for 2.5 to 3.6 million -- or about 3 million -- jobs and that for every government dollar invested in Recovery Act programs designed to leverage outside capital, private companies and others are co-investing with nearly three times as much outside investment.

In New Mexico alone, the Recovery Act has cut taxes for 700,000 working families and helped to spur 19,000 new jobs, according to a statement released by the White House.

The report can be viewed in full HERE (pdf).

The Council of Economic Advisers Fourth Quarterly Report on the Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Key Findings

The Recovery Act has had a significant impact on employment and economic growth:

  • As of the second quarter of 2010, the Recovery Act has raised employment by between 2.5 and 3.6 million jobs. This puts us well on track to reach the 3.5 million jobs benchmark by the end of this year.

  • CEA estimates that the Recovery Act has raised the level of GDP as of the second quarter of 2010 by between 2.7 and 3.2 percent. These estimates are very similar to those of a wide range of other analysts, including the Congressional Budget Office.

  • Outlays in areas such as infrastructure, clean energy, and communications technology increased by roughly 50 percent between the first and second quarters of 2010.

The Recovery Act is making investments that benefit the economy today and far into the future:

  • $319 billion in the Act is dedicated to “public investments” that are not only “helping the economy to recover and put Americans back to work today, they are also making investments in areas such as clean energy, health information technology, roads, and the skills of our workers that will benefit the economy far into the future.” To date, two-thirds of these funds have been obligated and more than one-quarter have been outlayed. CEA estimates that the $86.3 of outlays has already created or saved more than 800,000 jobs as of the second quarter of 2010, an increase of 30 percent over the first quarter.

The Recovery Act is leveraging significant investment from private companies and other entities:

  • A subset of these public investments, $95 billion, is leveraging external funds from private companies and other entities. For each of these dollars invested, $4.00 of economic activity is supported – meaning $286 billion of external investments are partnering with Recovery Act funds to support $382 billion into total project activity. The benefits of this “co-investment” include:
  • Jump-starting private investment: With credit markets still recovering from the financial crisis, the Recovery Act is directly stimulating $153 billion in private sector investment alone.
  • Aligning economic incentives: As private investors use significant amounts of their own money in Recovery Act projects, they put “skin in the game” and have more incentive to use funding responsibly.
  • Increasing overall support: The federal government has a responsibility to use tax dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible. Taxpayers get more value when those dollars are leveraged by private investment.

Clean energy is one of the areas generating the most Recovery Act outside investment leverage:

  • By sector, the largest amount of total activity supported is in clean energy, where a federal contribution of $46 billion will partner with $107 billion to support over $150 billion in total investments in energy efficiency, renewable generation, research, and other areas.
  • One such area is the Department of Energy’s smart grid program, which will foster smarter energy use, increasing the transparency of how energy is used. Spurred by a $4.5 billion Recovery Act investment, the private sector invested an additional $6 billion in smart grid projects, bringing the total investment to over $10 billion.
  • For example, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have been awarded $88 million for a regional smart grid demonstration project. Bolstered by $90 million in matches from utilities and technology companies, the $178 million project features 12 utilities and 15 test sites and the states estimate it will create or retain 1,500 jobs across the five states.

Recovery Act Build America Bonds are also generating significant outside investment, while saving state and local governments billions:

  • In economic development, a Recovery Act contribution of approximately $14 billion is partnering with over $130 in outside investment to support over $145 billion in economic activity. Build America Bonds (BABs) make up the majority of that activity.
  • As of June 30, 2010, BABs with a total face value of $115 billion have been issued in 1,446 separate issues in 49 states, DC and 2 territories. BABs allow municipalities to originate loans with 35 percent of the interest paid by the Federal government. The loans are attractive to a variety of investors, such as pension funds, who do not benefit from the tax-free status of traditional municipal bonds. By bringing in more sources of funding, the bonds lower interest costs for issuers. The Treasury recently calculated that the bonds have saved state and local governments about $12 billion.
  • For example, in Minneapolis the Hennepin County Board raised $27 million through a BABs issuance, which it is combining with state bonds and county funding to finance the $80 million Lowry Avenue bridge reconstruction. Estimated savings to Minneapolis taxpayers is between $3 and $5 million.

Building construction and environmental cleanup and preservation projects are also benefiting from the leverage effects of the Recovery Act.

  • Other sectors covered in the report include environmental cleanup and preservation, where an $11 billion investment is supporting over $21 billion of economic activity; construction of buildings, where a $6.4 billion investment is supporting $29.4 billion; and several more.

Recovery Act leverage programs are bringing private capital off the sidelines and keeping clean energy projects alive during tough economic times:

  • In one case study, CEA examines the Section 1603 Energy Cash Assistance Program, to see if this co-investment would have happened without Recovery Act funds in the game.
  • By looking at previous years in which no national investment was spurring private sector activity, compared to years in which there was a national investment, CEA projects that wind capacity additions in 2009 would have been cut by more than half without the Recovery Act and other incentives.
  • In 2009, 10,000 MW of wind capacity additions were installed, and the Recovery Act and other incentives were responsible for over 6,000 MW of those additions.

July 14, 2010 at 11:17 AM in Business, Economy, Populism, Energy, Green Economy, Healthcare, Jobs, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Gov. Bill Richardson Announces $4.5M in Stimulus Funding for 15 Solar Panel Projects at NM Schools

Governor Bill Richardson today announced that $4.5 million in federal stimulus funds are now available to 15 school districts in New Mexico for installation of solar photovoltaic electric systems. He said the projects will create jobs and allow schools to invest in energy-saving technology.

“These new solar systems will not only create jobs and help these schools reduce their utility bills, but the entire process -- from installation to monitoring the energy and cost savings -- will serve as an invaluable educational tool for both students and teachers,” said in a statement released today. “We want these projects to inspire students to pursue education and jobs in New Mexico’s emerging green economy.”

The 15 school districts were selected through a competitive application process and include: Belen, Carrizozo, Corona, Dulce, Elida, Gallup, Hatch, Los Alamos, Los Lunas, Moriarty, Peñasco, Portales, Rio Rancho, Ruidoso and Taos. Funds will be used to purchase and install a 50-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at a school in each of the 15 districts.

According to Education Secretary Veronica C. Garcia, “Districts can look forward to lower utility bills and students can expect new hands-on learning opportunities."

The Public Education Department will manage the projects and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department will provide technical assistance.

“We are pleased that the renewable energy projects at these schools will provide jobs for New Mexicans at a time when they are greatly needed,” said Jon Goldstein, Cabinet Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. “And we are happy to see so many additional projects around the state that help us to further reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources.”

The program will be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment State Energy Program administered by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Through Recovery Act funding, the is overseeing, to date, 39 other renewable energy and energy efficiency projects around the state, including the recently completed statewide traffic light project that replaced 150-watt incandescent bulbs with 6- to 12-watt LED bulbs.

As the Governor's office explained, a photovoltaic energy system is a solar electric system that converts the sun’s abundant energy into clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. Multiple components, like solar modules, structure mounts, and inverters that convert solar energy into usable electricity, make up the system. As a renewable energy technology and a domestic source of energy, it has numerous environmental benefits and contributes to the nation's energy security.

June 9, 2010 at 04:34 PM in Economy, Populism, Education, Energy, Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson, Green Economy, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Governor Bill Richardson: 3,000+ Full-Time Jobs Funded With Recovery Act Dollars in First Quarter

Governor Bill Richardson today announced that more than 3,000 full-time jobs in New Mexico have been funded with federal stimulus dollars in the first quarter of 2010.

"The Recovery Act is putting thousands of New Mexicans to work throughout rural and urban areas of the state,"  said in a statement released today. "Times are tough and stimulus funds have created good, local jobs in our schools, home building industry, law enforcement, road and clean water projects at time when we need them the most."

New Mexico's quarterly reports, jobs summaries and spending reports are . The reports show 3,009 full-time jobs were funded with Recovery Act dollars from January 1, 2010 through March 31, 2010. Of those, 2,271 jobs were in public education.

"Month after month, stimulus dollars continue to flow throughout New Mexico's economy," said former Governor Toney Anaya, executive director of the New Mexico Office of Recovery and Reinvestment. "We continue to lead an aggressive effort with state agencies to make sure Recovery Act projects are funded quickly and that benefits are flowing to New Mexicans."

Since February of last year, 11,899 people have received full or part-time work as a result of Recovery Act spending that flows through state government. In addition more jobs have been funded based on dollars that flow directly from the federal government to cities, towns, tribes or others that receive stimulus funds.

New Mexico is expected to receive more than $3.6 billion in Recovery Act funds over time, plus hundreds of millions in tax credits and additional bonding authority.

May 4, 2010 at 12:05 PM in Gov. Bill Richardson, Jobs, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 08, 2010

$86 Million: NM One of First States to Receive New Round of Education Stabilization Funds

Governor Bill Richardson released a statement today announcing that New Mexico is receiving $85,944,012 in the second phase of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The federal stimulus funds were provided directly to governors to help save jobs and drive education reform. New Mexico is one of the first five states approved to receive its Phase II funds thus far, joining Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, and Ohio.

“New Mexico stepped up to the plate and showed that we have a strong foundation for education reform, data collection, and accountability,” Governor Richardson said in a written statement. “Secretary Veronica García and her team were able to plan, apply, and respond quickly to get the funds to our state as soon as possible. Every effort was made to secure more financial support for schools fast.”

“This money will flow to classrooms and higher education all over New Mexico,” said former Governor Toney Anaya, Executive Director of the New Mexico Office of Recovery and Reinvestment. “The funds will help teachers, students and communities continue progress toward improving public education across the state.”

According to the Governor, these funds will be used, as proposed by the administration, to increase distributions through the education funding formula and help school districts offset budget cuts imposed by the Legislature for FY 10 & FY 11. They will also go to New Mexico’s colleges and universities.

New Mexico demonstrated that the Public Education Department could comply with data reporting requirements that would enable the state to move the following four areas forward: (a) achieving equity in teacher distribution, (b) improving collection and use of data, (c) standards and assessments to support instruction, and (d) supporting struggling schools. New Mexico’s full Phase II State Fiscal Stabilization Fund application can be found on the New Mexico Public Education Department website.

New Mexico Education Secretary Veronica García said, “I thank my team for an incredible effort to ensure that New Mexico schools receive every dollar they deserve from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

March 8, 2010 at 07:51 PM in Economy, Populism, Education, Gov. Bill Richardson, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cuts to Education Seem Inevitable as Some Results of Dealmaking are Revealed

If you were following yesterday's   of the New Mexico Legislature's special session by NMI or the Tweeting of various reporters on Twitter (#NMSpecial), you encountered a lot of hurry up and wait, or just plain wait, wait, wait -- accompanied by a photo or two of empty rooms. Other than a sometimes tense debate in the Senate Committee of the Whole on a resolution by Sen. Mary Kay Papen (D-Las Cruces) urging legislators to voluntarily give up their small per diem raise provided by a hike in the federal per diem (upon which the legislature's rate is based), there wasn't much happening of consequence in the chambers or committee rooms during daylight hours. 

Almost all the action was taking place behind the scenes as legislative leaders battled behind closed doors for and against this cut or that, and negotiated through various channels with Governor .

Sen. Papen's SCR 1 per diem proposal ended up being tabled into oblivion, but only after Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Espanola) held his own personal rave-up about the alleged abuse of per diem payments by certain unnamed lawmakers he said he'd been tracking. Sen. Martinez waved a piece of paper and thundered that it contained a list of legislators he personally knew had a habit of showing up late at interim committee meetings, snarfing down a free lunch and then fleeing the scene after signing in to get their per diem payments. 

Pushed for his list of per diem abusers, he backtracked and said the list only existed in his head, but not before he also complained that some first-year lawmakers had already learned the ropes and had quickly become very good at scamming undeserved per diem payments.

The discussion finally ended when Sen. Rod Adair (R-Roswell) mocked the Senators for worrying about unimportant $15 per diem increases when hundreds of millions of savings need to be found. Tempers were sometimes short in the fifth day of political maneuvering in the cramped quarters of the Roundhouse.

Long after the sun set, a few proposed fixes resulting from the day's battles came to light. Rep. Lucky Varela's (D-Santa Fe) HB 17, Reduce 2009 General Fund Appropriations, was passed in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee by a 11-6 vote. Five Republicans plus Dem Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) voted no. The bill would cut a total of $220 million from the budget, including $54 million in reduced funding for K-12 education. It's unclear how the bill will fare on the House floor, but it now appears that the Senate will deliberate on parameters of this appropriations bill today, rather than creating its own from scratch. NMI has a good recap on the bill.

In the Senate, Sen. Vernon Asbill's (R-Carlsbad) SB 13, School District Budget Flexibility, passed with a vote of 32-9, as amended on the floor. After many changes, the measure would allow schools to increase class sizes and cut the number of school days in response to budget cuts.

Another key piece of legislation considered in the House last night was Speaker Ben Lujan's (D-Santa Fe) HB 3, Fund Transfers and Appropriation Voids. The measure passed the House by a margin of 45-21, as amended, late in the evening after much wrangling. The bill also passed the Senate late yesterday by a vote of 36-5, as amended. The only Dem to vote no was Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque). At about Noon today, the House concurred on a voice vote about the Senate amendment, so the bill will go to the Governor's desk.

The bill requires so-called "sweeps" of existing unspent funds from various capital projects and most agency budgets, totaling more than $100,000,000 that would be transferred to the state's general fund to make up for deficits. It patches holes in this year's budget but doesn't address gaps projected for future years.

Lt. Governor Diane Denish issued a statement immediately after the bill's passage in the Senate, saying,

“The legislature has taken a necessary though painful step of passing House Bill 3 that will sweep cash balances from a variety of funds. Difficult though this decision may be, the fact that it is distributed over many different programs and funds is a fair approach to achieving critically needed reductions. Our highly successful Pre-K program that I have long championed will lose more than one million dollars, but, as I’ve said all along these painful cuts must be shared by all. It is my hope that in the future some of these funds could be restored.”

The word is that key legislators are suggesting that education cuts will be held to 2 percent or less, with agency cuts in the 4-5 percent range, but that could change in today's negotiations. Gov. Richardson's proposal recommended education cuts of 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent cuts in the rest of the government. Education spending amounts to about 43 percent of the state's current budget. 

The Senate also gave unanimous approval -- without debate -- to a measure allocating $370,000 to pay for the special session. The bill had previously been passed in the House, so it's going to Gov. Richardson's desk for his signature.

NMI is again the action at the New Mexico Legislature.

October 22, 2009 at 11:16 AM in Diane Denish, Economy, Populism, Education, Gov. Bill Richardson, Government, Local Politics, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ring Around the Roundhouse for Marriage Equality - The Video

Video of World's Biggest Engagement Ring

At noon on Saturday, October 17, 2009 supporters of marriage equality, organized by Equality New Mexico, created the largest engagement ring in the world (Guinness World Record pending). Consisting of a long stream of gold lame fabric held by a reported 356 people, as well as a makeshift "diamond," the ring stretched around the entire perimeter outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe as a Special Session of the New Mexico Legislature was about to get underway.

Although no bills regarding marriage equality will be introduced at this Special Session devoted to budget matters, supporters aimed to keep the issue in the legislative spotlight, where it belongs. If some of us don't have full equal rights under civil law, it means that none of us do -- not really. The message was clear -- it's time for LGBT folks to receive all the rights other Americans take for granted, including marriage equality. We're American citizens and we'll keep on fighting until out communities, and the government, fully recognize that fact.

Side note: At about the same time, Tea Party advocates held a press conference and rally in the Capitol Rotunda. About 30 people reportedly showed up. What a contrast.

October 18, 2009 at 07:37 PM in Civil Liberties, Events, GLBT Rights, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 31, 2009

$3.1 Million in Recovery Act Funds to Pay for Transit Improvements in Santa Fe, Las Cruces

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that $3.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for transit improvements in New Mexico. According to a press release, grants are being awarded as follows:

  • City of Santa Fe: $1.4 million for the purchase of two 30-foot buses, 60 shelters, and mobile security equipment.
  • City of Las Cruces: $1.7 million to purchase three 30-foot buses, equipment, and maintenance facility upgrades.

“The Recovery Act was put in place quickly to rescue the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression and rebuild it for a stronger future,” said Secretary LaHood. “Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a key part of that prescription for strength. It creates jobs today and builds a better, more sustainable economy moving forward.”

“By quickly moving federal dollars to the cities and towns across the country, we are ensuring that our nation will have reliable and efficient transit systems for generations to come,” he added.

Since President Obama signed ARRA into law on Feb. 17, 2009, grants totaling more than $4 billion have been made available for transit improvements throughout the nation.

“These funds are creating jobs now while investing in the future of our transit systems,” said Administrator Peter Rogoff of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). “The public’s demand for transit service continues to grow, and these dollars will help meet that need.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation has made $48.1 billion available for highway, road, transit, bridge, and airport construction and repairs nationwide. Of that, $22.5 billion already has been obligated to fund more than 6,832 approved projects in 55 U.S. states and territories.

July 31, 2009 at 11:16 AM in Economy, Populism, Las Cruces, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration, Santa Fe, Transportation | |

Thursday, July 16, 2009

NM Rep. Rick Miera to Meet with Bill Gates on Using Recovery Funds for Education Reform

HMIERThe New Mexico House Majority Office today announced that Representative Rick Miera (D-Bernalillo-11), chairman of the House Education Committee and vice chairman of the interim Legislative Education Study Committee, has been invited to meet privately with Bill Gates and a small number of other national legislative leaders. The small group will discuss the role of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the unique opportunity it brings for education reform, according to a press release.

The meeting, which will take place on July 21 from 10:30 to 11:30 AM in the Philadelphia Convention Center, was arranged by Speaker Joe Hackney of the North Carolina House of Representatives, the President of the National Council of State Legislatures, in conjunction with the group’s annual Legislative Summit. “As a critical decision maker on state education issues, we look forward to this discussion with you and other state leaders regarding promising reform strategies and the ARRA,” said Speaker Hackney in his invitation to Miera.

Bill Gates, America's most famous technology entrepreneur, has turned his energy and genius to improving education in our country.  Gates believes that economic stimulus money for education provides a unique opportunity -- a moment in time -- to create bold innovations that will redefine educational excellence.

This year’s NCSL Legislative Summit attendees will hear from Gates as he delivers the opening keynote address to legislators and staff.  Focusing on “A Bold New Vision for Education” in America, he will impress upon attendees the need to use stimulus monies to advance real education reform in their states.  Improving the nation’s current education system to ensure greater opportunity for all Americans through the attainment of secondary and post-secondary education with economic value is a priority of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s United States Program.

Rick Miera has represented District 11 in Bernalillo County since 1991. His recognized expertise in educational issues has been instrumental in the passage of many of the educational reforms of the past two decades in New Mexico.

July 16, 2009 at 01:17 PM in Economy, Populism, Education, NM Legislature 2009, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NM Congressional Delegation Announces Nearly $2 Million in Energy Efficiency Rebates

EnergyStarLogo_orignal.29061934_stdThinking of replacing your old energy guzzling appliances with new energy efficient models? Help is on the way. On Tuesday, the New Mexico Congressional delegation announced in a joint press release that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has made $1,903,927.00 available for energy efficiency rebates for purchases of new ENERGY STAR qualified home appliances. The funding was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This appliance rebate initiative was written into law in 2005, but the Recovery Act is the first opportunity we’ve had to fund it. By helping New Mexicans purchase energy-saving appliances, we will be stimulating the economy while reducing our nation’s energy consumption,” Senator Jeff Bingaman said. Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, worked hard to incorporate the appliance rebate into the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and helped ensure it was funded through the Recovery Act.”

“This $1.9 million in Recovery funding will help New Mexican families save money on their monthly electric bill and give them a rebate incentive to purchase energy efficient appliances that are good for our environment,” said Senator Tom Udall.

“Efficient home appliances save energy and money,” said Congressman Martin Heinrich. “This program encourages smart home improvement by offsetting the cost of replacing old appliances with more efficient models. New Mexicans will save energy, lower utility bills, and stimulate the economy.”

“These rebates will provide double savings to New Mexicans, both on the cost of the appliance and on their energy bills for the life of the appliance,” said Congressman Harry Teague. “Heating and cooling our homes can account for as much as 46% of utility bills so savings on the purchase of energy efficient appliances continues beyond checkout.”

“This program through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will make it easier for families to get energy saving appliances in their homes,” said Congressman Ben Ray Luján. “The program and these appliances will help save families money during these difficult economic times, while saving electricity.”

The new funding will be awarded to the state using a formula set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

10 percent of the funds will be awarded after submitting an initial application with the balance awarded after their program plans are approved. DOE anticipates that substantially all funding will be awarded by November 30, 2009.

Types of appliances that can qualify for rebates:

  • Boilers
  • Central air conditioners
  • Clothes washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Freezers
  • Furnaces (oil and gas)
  • Heat pumps (air source and geothermal)
  • Refrigerators
  • Room air conditioners
  • Water heaters

Visit the ENERGY STAR website for more information about the program.

July 15, 2009 at 12:36 PM in Economy, Populism, Energy, Environment, NM Congressional Delegation, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | |

Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama Administration Awards $12+ Million for New Mexico's State Energy Program

Press releases about stimulus funds are arriving in bunches right now as more and more of the money gets released. I like to put up some of them so you can get an idea of what's going on with some of the recovery money.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $12.7 million in Recovery Act funding to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in New Mexico. Under DOE’s State Energy Program, New Mexico proposed a statewide plan that prioritizes energy savings, creates or retains jobs, increases the use of renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This program is part of the Obama Administration’s national strategy to support job growth, while making a historic down payment on clean energy and conservation.

Secretary Chu announced a total of more than $141 million for State Energy Programs in six states and territories states including: Hawaii, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Texas. Each grantee is receiving 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This funding will provide an important boost for state economies, help to put Americans back to work, and move us toward energy independence," said Secretary Chu in a press release. "It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy while insisting that taxpayer dollars be spent responsibly."

New Mexico will use its Recovery Act funding to implement several energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in buildings and the transportation sector. The state aims to reduce petroleum consumption through various financial incentives to encourage the purchase of new fuel-efficient vehicles, the use of alternative fuels and biofuels, and investments in alternative fuel and biofuel infrastructure.

The state will also direct Recovery Act funding to increase building efficiency. The program includes initiatives to expand residential weatherization assistance to families above the low-income eligibility threshold for the Weatherization Assistance Program, public building energy efficiency retrofits, commercial building audits and renovations, combined heat and power projects in the industrial sector, and the adoption of energy codes. Both the buildings and transportation programs include provisions to educate citizens about energy issues and provide statewide training for professionals in order to reduce energy consumption across residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

With today's announcement, New Mexico will now have received 50 percent of its total Recovery Act SEP funding. The initial 10 percent of total funding was previously available to support planning activities; the remaining 50 percent of funds will be released once it meets reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act. After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive almost $16 million in additional funding, for a total of nearly $32 million.

Activities eligible for State Energy Program funding include energy audits, building retrofits, education and training efforts, transportation programs to increase the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and new financing mechanisms to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.

The Recovery Act appropriated $3.1 billion to the State Energy Program (SEP) to help promote energy efficiency and clean energy deployment, as well as to support local economic recovery. States use these grants at the state and local level to create green jobs and address state energy priorities.

Transparency and accountability are important priorities for SEP and all Recovery Act projects. Throughout the program’s implementation, DOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and national level, while emphasizing with states the need to quickly award funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.

July 10, 2009 at 03:20 PM in Energy, Environment, Green Economy, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration | |

Thursday, July 09, 2009

$10.47 Million in Stimulus Funding Released for NM Transit Grants

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is releasing a total of $10.47 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for New Mexico transit projects.

“People throughout New Mexico depend on public transportation to get to and from work. I am pleased that the stimulus funds released today will help provide New Mexico residents with a safe and reliable means of transportation,” Bingaman said in a press release.

“As gas prices increase, the demand for modern, efficient and low-cost public transportation continues to grow,” said Udall. “Improving our transportation facilities around New Mexico will help ensure that our state can develop an up-to-date public transportation system to provide New Mexicans with the travel options they need.”

Funds will be distributed as follows:

  • $790,312 for the City of Farmington to purchase four 32-foot-replacement trolley-type buses to replace vehicles that have exceeded their useful life
  • $340,000 for the City of Roswell to purchase two buses and two vans
  • $96,250 for the Pueblo of Laguna to purchase an 8 passenger van with lift; bus shelter/garage for vehicles; and metal file cabinet for internal office files
  • $112,096 for the Village of Milan to purchase a 14 passenger van with lift; 19 bus shelters with installation; and 19 bus stop signage with installation
  • $173,900 for the Village of Angel Fire to purchase three 12 passenger buses with 4-wheel drive and signage
  • $383,000 for the City of Clovis to purchase two Entervans; Bus shed; storage units; Concrete Flooring; Security Cameras for Facility; and On-Board Surveillance and GPS equipment
  • $130,323 for the Ben Archer Health Center in Las Cruces to purchase three ADA vans
  • $404,579 for the City of Carlsbad to purchase five vans; 30 bus stop signs; 30 posts; freight; paved parking area; and covered parking shelter
  • $286,200 for the Southwest Regional Transit District to purchase two 15 passenger buses with lifts; bus benches and shelters; and bus stop signs
  • $200,000 for the City of Hobbs to purchase two 12 passenger vans with lifts; construction/installation of bus shelters; and bus stop signs
  • $133,923 for the Ruidoso Downs to purchase three 14 passenger with lifts and radios and base stations/mobile radios
  • $750,000 for Los Alamos County to purchase a 31 passenger bus; one low floor 40 ft hybrid bus; and eight passenger shelters
  • $767,500 for the Navajo Nation to purchase two 45 passenger buses; 15 bus shelters; dispatch console; five radios/GPS communication; and five surveillance systems
  • $260,486 for Na'Nizhoozhi Center, Inc. in Gallup to purchase four Startrans buses; 13 bus shelters; includes labor and materials; and signage
  • $160,044 for the Zuni Entrepreneurial Enterprises, Inc. to purchase a minivan with lift; van/bus with 4 wheel drive and lift; 15 bus shelters with installation; 15 bus stop signage with installation; desktop computer; printer and three desks, three chairs, two cabinets
  • $344,626 for Zia Therapy in Alamogordo to purchase two 25 pass buses w/lift; bus stop benches w/shade top; 45 rotating transit tubes for bus stops signs; two way radios/antennas/all cabling; and three flammable storage units
  • $76,400 for the City of Portales for 1-ST5 14 pass Candidate II High Top; and 1-PV5 6 walk-on Braun Para transit van
  • $81,600 for the City of Las Vegas to purchase two Braun Para transit van PV5 with lift; a two way radio; and security cameras and monitoring system for transportation facility (interior/exterior ) as per safety and security recommendations - system consists of security cameras, DVR, monitors
  • $2.5 million for the Mid-Region Council of Governments for the Santo Domingo transit facility
  • $400,000 for Sandoval County to purchase eight bus shelters and information board
  • $636,000 for the Rio Metro Transit District to purchase two 30 ft bus and two 40 ft bus with lift, four bus shelters includes material, labor and maintenance
  • $130,323 for the South Central Council of Governments to purchase three ADA vans
  • $34,400 for the City of Socorro to purchase one Entervan uplander, six walk on vans and Bus Benches
  • $150,000 for the Town of Red River to purchase two small buses equipped with 4x4 and steel body each with lift
  • $507,500 for the Town of Taos to purchase four 20 passenger buses; a 10 passenger bus; six bus shelters and benches; two way radios
  • $72,200 for Torrance County to purchase one 15 passenger van w/lift; security fencing; alert/alarm system and telecommunication equipment
  • $44,337 for Golden Spread in Union County to purchase one 13 passenger van with lift; a PV3 12 passenger van no lift; sign for building
  • $128,245 for the Town of Belen to purchase three shuttle buses, 15 passenger with lift and fare box; 10 shelters; 25 benches; and a computer and printer
  • $110,000 for the Town of Los Lunas to purchase a 25 passenger bus with lifts; and a 15 passenger van with lift
  • $2,789 for the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Park and Ride

July 9, 2009 at 08:26 PM in Economy, Populism, Energy, NM Congressional Delegation, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Transportation | |

Richardson, Udall: NM to Partner with CO, TX to Pursue Funding for Study on El Paso to Denver High Speed Rail

HighspeedrailGovernor Bill Richardson and Senator Tom Udall today announced in a press release that New Mexico is partnering with Colorado and Texas to take the initial steps in developing a high-speed rail corridor between El Paso and Denver running through New Mexico.

Congress has authorized up to eleven high-speed corridors across the U.S. Currently only 10 corridors have been designated. The three-state partnership is seeking the 11th designation and will be applying for federal funds to conduct a viability study.

New Mexico, Colorado and Texas could receive up to $5 million from the Federal Railroad Administration under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 to study the viability of the El Paso to Denver High-Speed Rail Corridor. The three states will submit the joint pre-application for funds tomorrow, Friday July 10th.

"The Southwest should not be left out as President Obama seeks to build high speed rail networks across the nation," said Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. "Today, you cannot get from Albuquerque to Denver by rail without changing trains in Los Angeles or Chicago and our regional railways run from East to West, with no North-South connections. This study will lay the groundwork to make a major improvement to public transportation in the Southwest and bring new opportunities for tourism and business growth in New Mexico."

“The overwhelming success of the New Mexico RailRunner is proof of the demand for more modern, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation options,” Governor said. “High-speed rail is the future of our country and is going to be a major boost to the economic vitality of the cities and states along its routes. With this designation, New Mexico will be in better position to meet the evolving economic, workforce, and transportation demands of the 21st Century.”

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama launched an aggressive effort to develop a national network of high-speed passenger rail lines. The president unveiled a strategic plan identifying $8 billion in federal stimulus funds and a separate five-year, $5 billion investment as a down payment to jump-start the nation's high-speed rail lines.

We are one of the last developed nations to build a sophisticated high-speed passenger rail network. For instance, China, Japan, France and Spain already have very efficient high-speed rail networks. They cover hundreds of thousands of miles, providing access between big cities and small towns, spurring economic growth and cutting down on auto travel. An article published yesterday at provides a wealth of information on how other nations are investing heavily in new high speed technologies and systems.

“We are excited to partner with our Western neighbors on this exciting opportunity. High-speed rail has long been a conversation in Colorado, and this designation would provide the funding needed to further examine its feasibility,” Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said. “There is a great deal of movement of people, goods and services along the Front Range and the entire Colorado-Texas-New Mexico corridor, and it is high time Congress designate a Western corridor. This designation would connect our communities, increase economic opportunities, create jobs, and lead Colorado’s transportation infrastructure forward.”

Even Texas Governor Rick Perry -- who just this past April seemed to be advocating for Texas to secede from the union due to his dislike for federal spending -- got into the act. "Improving and expanding our transportation infrastructure is vitally important in a state that grows by more than 1,000 people each day," Perry said. "As we look for more efficient ways to keep Texans moving, high-speed rail is an important option, which is why I am supportive of this and other high-speed rail projects across Texas."

July 9, 2009 at 12:19 PM in Green Economy, NM Congressional Delegation, NM Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, Obama Administration, Sen. Tom Udall, Transportation | |