February 10, 2009

The United States Senate voted 61-37 today to pass the Economic Stimulus package.  The Senate version is projected to cost $838 billion over the next ten years, compared to the House version projected at $819 billion.  Both bills now go into a conference committee for reconciliation.

Senate leaders expected the conference committee to begin meeting this evening to work quickly through differences.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said after today’s vote that House and Senate conferees would start working immediately to resolve differences. “I think the differences really are fairly minor,” he said. “I think we can get most of our work done in the next 24 hours.”

The Senate version of the bill reduced a number of funds that would have come to the State to offset health and human services costs.  CSAC is sending a letter to the conferees as well as each member of our delegation to support the House version of the bill in that regard and asking that the conference report restore those funds.  A copy of the draft of that letter is attached.

Under the House bill, it was estimated that California would receive around $21.4 billion in funds.  We do not have an estimate for the Senate version, but that version reduced, for instance, Medicaid and fiscal stabilization for states by more than $5 billion.

CSAC has also obtained a side-by-side comparison of the two bills and I am attaching a copy of that comparison as well.

We do expect this issue to move through conference and both houses quickly.  If you want to be heard on this issue prior to passage, you should do so immediately.

Paul McIntosh
Executive Director
California State Association of Counties