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Mack slams stimulus bill as local leaders ask for federal help

By Staff | Jan 30, 2009

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack joined fellow House Republicans earlier this week in opposing the federal stimulus package legislation designed to inject $870 billion in the economy to reignite productivity.
State and local leaders, on the other hand, are hoping some of the House approved stimulus funds will be used to shore up Florida’s budget and help kick-start infrastructure projects.
“There’s no question that our country is in a recession and people are hurting. But the economic ‘stimulus’ bill passed by the Democratic-led House (Wednesday) afternoon won’t provide the economic spark our country needs,” Mack said in a prepared statement.
Mack instead supports supply-side solutions such as tax cuts to stimulate the economy.
Republicans in the Florida Legislature, however, are not as concerned with the economic debate as they are with securing federal funds to help balance their budget and jump-start local projects.
“The Republican philosophy is not to spend our way out of a recession,” State Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, said.
Aubuchon said he will look to see what the final legislation looks like before trying to secure some of the funds slated for Southwest Florida.
The U.S. Senate is yet to draft its version of the stimulus legislation, and will debate the issue Monday. The Senate and House versions must be reconciled before being sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.
“My intention is once I see what funds will be coming (Florida’s) way, to secure some of that for our area,” Aubuchon said.
In Lee County, where the unemployment rate is more than 10 percent and foreclosure rates led the nation for 2008, Aubuchon said federal help is warranted.
“We certainly have the justification for significant help,” he said.
Cape Coral Mayor Jim Burch, who lobbied for stimulus funds to go directly to municipalities and local governments during the U.S. Mayor’s Conference earlier this month, said he was disappointed the House bill did not contain more funds for local governments.
“I am disappointed in what appears to be the bulk of it not really designed for stimulus,” Burch said.
If federal funds find their way to Cape Coral, one “shovel-ready” project that will be helped is the SW 6/7 portion of the UEP, Burch said.
President Obama has asked Congress to have the federal stimulus legislation ready for his signature by Feb. 16.