February 13, 2009

Senators Applaud Inclusion of State Revolving Fund in Economic Recovery Package

Measure provides flexible grant money for water quality improvement projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond from Missouri, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall from New Mexico and Chuck Schumer from New York applauded a measure included in the final economic recovery package that will allow states more flexibility in providing grants to communities for water, waste water or drinking water projects through the State Revolving Fund (SRF).


After attempting to add a similar provision to the version of the bill crafted in the Senate, the senators sent a letter to the members of the joint House and Senate conference who are tasked with reconciling differences between the bills from both chambers, to request they include grants as an option for states administering the SRF. The original House-passed version of the economic recovery package included such a provision.


The senators were please to see that the final version of the economic recovery package passed in the House today included the original SRF measure that would require at least 50 percent of the capitalization grants each State receives under the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds be used to provide assistance in the form of forgiveness of principal, negative interest loans, or grants. Including this provision was essential in order for States to reach communities that would otherwise not have the resources to repay loans.


"The entire purpose of this bill is to ensure we get money flowing out into the economy quickly and this particular piece of this bill goes even further in that regard by helping local Missouri communities tend to projects that need to be fixed anyway," McCaskill said.


"Missouri communities need these funds to clean their water and I am proud that our bipartisan provision was added to the final package in conference," said Bond.

"This means it will be easier for New Mexico to access funding to make drinking water projects possible in communities throughout the state," Bingaman said.


"I am pleased the final conference report includes our amendment which will help New Mexico access funds to bring clean water to our communities and help get our economy moving again," Udall said.


"Including this measure has made a good recovery package even better. It will ensure that more communities can get access to the resources to carry out critical water and sewer projects," Schumer said.


Currently, the economic recovery package only allows states to fund SRF projects through loans, negative interest loans or principal subsidies. However, many states, like Missouri and New Mexico, have constitutional laws that make it extremely difficult to administer the SRF through these means in the timeframe required under the bill. For states like Missouri, that means many rural communities could be precluded from accessing this funding.