Federal stimulus money should aid Augusta's economy, Congressman John Barrow said Friday at the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce's Member Economic Luncheon at Doubletree Hotel Augusta.
Mr. Barrow, whose 12th District represents much of Richmond County, said funds coming to Augusta through the federal stimulus bill will help.
The Augusta area is expected to receive billions in stimulus funds, he said, including $24 million for the Richmond County Board of Education and $1.6 billion for cleanup at Savannah River Site.
"It should produce at best estimate about 3,000 jobs," he said about the SRS funds.
While he said he voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, he supported the stimulus bill because "we have an idea what we'll get out of it."
Mr. Barrow called it a "three-legged" stool, including tax cuts for those with middle to low income and small businesses, state aid and infrastructure. He believes the funding "will stop the slide in unemployment."
"There's a lot of public infrastructure that needs building and upgrading. It seems like an opportunity for us to invest for a change in some things that have lasting value," he said.
The funding is important for states because they "are major players today in delivering core government services in ways that they weren't in the 1930s," he said. For instance, states are instrumental in funding public education and Medicaid.
Mr. Barrow said he is also working to assist small businesses through legislation. He introduced the Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP Act during the second session of the last Congress, which is designed to make health insurance affordable for small businesses.
"It was the first effort to fix what was broken with the associated health plan model. We need to get insurance companies back in the business of rating small companies the way they used to," Mr. Barrow said.
"We've reached an agreement to focus on rating practices of insurance companies that systematically discriminate against smaller businesses," he said.
The bill will be reintroduced Tuesday, he said.
He is also a co-sponsor of the Small Business Start-Up Formation and Job Creation Act, which is designed to help start-up businesses get off the ground.
"It will quadruple the amount you can deduct for a start-up business from $5,000 to $20,000. That's a huge help," he said.
Mr. Barrow said that it's also important to invest in broadband technology. Sixty percent of his constituents live in areas with dial-up Internet service, he said.
Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUGUSTA'S BAILOUT BREAKDOWN
How much will Augusta receive from the federal stimulus bill? Here are the numbers, according to Congressman John Barrow:
Richmond County Board of Education -- $24 million
Savannah River Site cleanup -- $1.6 billion
Veterans Administration medical center -- $2.4 million
Local law enforcement -- $500,000
Homeless prevention grant -- $900,000
Community development block grant -- $600,000
Community health centers -- $134,486 *
* to Neighborhood Improvement Projects Inc. in Augusta