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Forum staff reports, Published February 13 2009

Pomeroy praises passage of stimulus bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy praised today’s passage of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill by the House.

The $787 billion plan was passed with a 246-183 vote. Pomeroy believes the bill will provide a strong boost to North Dakota’s economy by saving and creating 8,000 jobs in the state and providing tax relief to struggling businesses and families.

“I believe the threat to our nation’s economy is the worst since the Great Depression, making it incredibly important for us to respond,” Pomeroy said in a written statement this afternoon. “Our country did not get in this position overnight, and there is no silver bullet which will immediately make everything better. But we needed to act and we needed to act now, before things got dramatically worse.”

According to Pomeroy, North Dakota will benefit from the bill in the following ways:

– Unemployment benefits: The bill extends relief for workers who have lost their jobs in the recession.

It provides up to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for workers who are laid off from their jobs, and increases unemployment benefits by $25 per week.

– Wind energy: The bill includes a three-year extension of the production tax credit for wind, based on legislation introduced by Pomeroy earlier this year to extend the credit for five years. This credit allows wind to compete with traditional sources of electricity, and the multi-year extension will give the wind industry the long-term stability to plan and build wind farms.

– Health information technology: The bill provides an estimated $49 million to $71 million to doctors and hospitals in North Dakota, out of $19 billion nationwide, to adopt electronic medical records systems known as Health Information Technology.

This will save billions of dollars by improving quality and reducing duplication and medical errors, Pomeroy said. MeritCare Health Systems in Fargo, who is already in the process of implementing an HIT system, will receive around $10 million alone under this bill.

– Tax credits for working families: The bill includes the Make Work Pay Tax Cut which provides a refundable tax credit of up to $400 per worker, phasing out completely at $95,000 for single filers and $190,000 for couples filing jointly, which will be distributed by reducing tax withholding from workers’ paychecks.

More than 250,000 North Dakotans will receive this tax credit, Pomeroy said Retirees, disabled veterans and disabled individuals will receive a one-time $250 payment.