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Obama Administration Stimulus Package - Veterans Affairs

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allan

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-------- Original Message --------

Subject:

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION STIMULUS PACKAGE - VETERANS AFFAIRS

Date:

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 00:39:02 -0500

From:

Joseph A. Bello <bjoe7@hotmail.com>

To:

Colonel-Dan

The following is what I put together regarding Veterans Affairs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was approved by Congress and signed by President Obama yesterday. I note that CNN rated Veterans Affairs as one of the losers in this stimulus package as nearly all items for Veterans Affairs were reduced and the $2 billion the U.S. Senate wanted for VA Construction was wiped out altogether. Even Rep. Filner stated in a press release: “I am disappointed that we could not provide more of an investment in this bill and I will continue to work to draw attention to the growing and unmet needs of our veterans.” Also, please note that I have put nothing in here regarding the Filipino Veterans provisions. If I missed anything, I am truly sorry - it was a BIG document and I did this myself. Please pass on to others...Joe. The breakdown is as follows:

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS (TITLE X)

Job creation. The conferees note that the Associated General Contractors of America estimates that each $1,000,000,000 in non-residential construction spending* will create or sustain 28,500 jobs. Based on this estimate and data provided by the. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the conferees estimate that the construction funds and other programs in this will create or sustain 97,200 jobs.

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION (VHA)

MEDICAL FACILITIES - $1,000,000,000*

For an additional amount for "Medical Facilities" for non-recurring maintenance, including energy projects, $1,000,000,000 to remain available until September 30, 2010: Provided, that not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided under this heading. (Joe’s Note: The VA has identified a $5 billion backlog in needed repairs, including energy efficiency projects, at its 153 medical facilities. The $1 billion is for medical facilities renovation and retooling.)

NATIONAL CEMETERY ADMINISTRATION - $50,000,000

For an additional amount for "National Cemetery Administration" for monument and memorial repairs, including energy projects, $50,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010: Provided, that not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided under this heading.

DEPARTMENTAL ADMINISTRATION

GENERAL OPERATING EXPENSES - $150,000,000

For an additional amount for "General Operating Expenses", $150,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, for additional expenses related to the hiring and training of temporary surge claims processors.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS - $50,000,000

For an additional amount for "Information Technology Systems", $50,000,000, to remain, available until September 30, 2010, for the Veterans Benefits Administration, Provided, that not later than 30 days after the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations both houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds' provided under this heading.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL - $1,000,000

For an additional amount for "Office of Inspector General", $1,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2011, for oversight and audit of programs, grants and projects funded under this title.

GRANTS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF STATE EXTENDED CARE FACILITIES - $150,000,000

For an additional amount for "Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities", $150,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, for grants to assist States to acquire or construct State nursing home and domiciliary facilities and to remodel, modify, or alter existing hospital, nursing home, and domiciliary facilities in State homes, for furnishing care to veterans as authorized by sections 8131 through 8137 of title 38, United 7 States Code.

OTHER ITEMS FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS

CREDIT ALLOWED FOR UNEMPLOYED VETERANS HIRED IN 2009 OR 2010 (15 SEC. 1221)

Any unemployed veteran who begins work for the employer during 2009 or 2010 shall be treated as a member of a targeted group.

An unemployed veteran is defined as an individual certified by the designated local agency as someone who: (1) has served on active duty (other than for training) in the Armed Forces for more than 180 days or who has been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces for a service-connected disability; (2) has been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces during the five-year period ending on the hiring date; and (3) has received unemployment compensation under State or Federal law for not less than four weeks during the one-year period ending on the hiring date.

The work opportunity tax credit is available on an elective basis for employers hiring individuals from one or more of nine targeted groups. The amount of the credit available to an employer is determined by the amount of qualified wages paid by the employer. Generally, qualified wages consist of wages attributable to service rendered by a member of a targeted group during the one-year period beginning with the day the individual begins work for the employer (two years in the case of an individual in the long-term family assistance recipient category).

Targeted groups eligible for the credit

Generally an employer is eligible for the credit only for qualified wages paid to members of a targeted group.

(1) Families receiving TANF

(2) Qualified veteran

There are two subcategories of qualified veterans related to eligibility for Food stamps and compensation for a service-connected disability.

Food stamps

A qualified veteran is a veteran who is certified by the designated local agency as a member of a family receiving assistance under a food stamp program under the Food Stamp Act of 1977 for a period of at least three months part of which is during the 12-month period ending on the hiring date. For these purposes, members of a family are defined to include only those individuals taken into account for purposes of determining eligibility for a food stamp program under the Food Stamp Act of 1977.

Entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability

A qualified veteran also includes an individual who is certified as entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability and: (1) having a hiring date which is not more than one year after having been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States; or (2) having been unemployed for six months or more (whether or not consecutive) during the one-year period ending on the date of hiring.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The amendments made by this section shall apply to individuals who begin work for the employer after December 31, 2008. (Joe’s Note: As many have stated, the basic problem with this part is that in order for an employer to receive the work opportunity tax credit, the Veteran will have to be on unemployment benefits for four weeks. Personally, I do believe that this is fair to the veteran. I am also not crazy about the part for service connected disability.)

ECONOMIC RECOVERY PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS (SEC. 2201)

(Joe’s Note: This section will provide $14 billion for one-time $250 payments to all Social Security recipients, as well as poor people on Supplemental Security Income, and veterans who receive disability payments and pensions. There will be NO double payments.)

Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to disburse a onetime Economic Recovery Payment of $250 to adults who were eligible for Social Security benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or veteran's compensation or pension benefits; or individuals who were eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (excluding individuals who receive SSI while in a Medicaid institution). Only individuals who were eligible for one of the four programs for any of the three months prior to the month of enactment shall receive an Economic Recovery Payment.

The Secretary of the Treasury shall commence disbursing payments under this section at the earliest practicable date but in no event later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act. The Secretary of the Treasury may disburse any payment electronically to an individual in such manner as if such payment was a benefit payment or cash benefit to such individual.

No payments shall be disbursed under this section after December 31, 2010, regardless of any determinations of entitlement to, or eligibility for, such payments made after such date.

IDENTIFICATION OF RECIPIENTS

The Commissioner of Social Security, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall certify the individuals entitled to receive payments under this section and provide the Secretary of the Treasury with the information needed to disburse such payments. A certification of an individual shall be unaffected by any subsequent termination or redetermination of the individual's entitlement to, or eligibility for, a benefit specified in subparagraph (B) or © of subsection (a)(l).

The VA will receive $100,000 for the Information Systems Technology account and $7,100,000 for the General Operating Expenses account for administrative costs incurred in carrying out this section.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation and Pensions account shall hereinafter be available for payments authorized under subsection (a)(1)(A) to individuals entitled to a benefit payment described in subsection (a)(1)(B)(iii).

"Keep on, Keepin' on"

Dan Cedusky, Champaign IL "Colonel Dan"

See my web site at:

http://www.angelfire.com/il2/VeteranIssues/

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