Recovery and Reinvestment Package Includes Major Push to Create Jobs, Economic Opportunity in Indian Country

Feb 13, 2009
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Appropriations & Budget
Indian Economic Development

WASHINGTON DC -

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress Friday includes approximately $2.5 billion to create jobs and economic opportunity in Indian Country.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who proposed including initiatives for Indian Country in the package, said the legislation represents “a long over-due and urgently needed investment in Indian Country. Indian reservations have faced 50% unemployment rates and double digit poverty rates for decades. These initiatives are targeted to help create jobs in the short term where they are most in need. In addition, the initiatives will also help promote long term economic opportunity and activity.”

The provisions contain no “earmarks,” funding instead only previously authorized programs.

The legislation also includes significant new construction bonding authority, beyond the $2.5 billion in job creating investments, to further help spur job creation.

A summary of Indian Country provisions follows:

INDIAN HEALTH CARE

  • Indian Health Facilities – $415 million
  • New construction – $227 million
  • Maintenance and improvements – $100 million
  • Sanitation Facilities – $68 million
  • Medical Equipment – $20 million
  • Indian Health Services – Health Information Technology - $85 million

BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS

  • BIA Office of Indian Programs – $40 million (housing improvement and workforce & training)
  • BIA Construction – $450 million (schools, roads repair, jails, irrigation, dams)

PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE

  • Department of Justice Grants (DOJ) – Indian Jails construction - $225 million (coordinate with BIA, consider violent crime rates and detention space needs)
  • DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services – tribes eligible to compete - $1 billion program
  • DOJ Violence Against Women Prosecution Grants – $22.5 million (result of a 10% tribal set-aside)

TRIBAL ROADS AND BRIDGES

  • Indian Reservation Roads (DOT) – $310 million
  • Tribal Transit Set-Aside (DOT) – $17.25 million

INDIAN HOUSING

  • Indian Housing block grants (HUD) – $510 million (conference note to use funding to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency in houses maintained by Native American housing programs)

EDUCATION

  • Head Start – $10 million (tribal set-aside)
  • Early Head Start – tribes eligible for a portion of the $1.1 billion program
  • Special Education (IDEA) – tribes eligible for a portion of the $12.2 billion program
  • Impact Aid – language urges targeted funding to military and Indian reservations from the $100 million program

ENERGY AND WATER

  • Bureau of Reclamation Tribal Water Projects – $60 million for water intake and treatment facilities
  • Safe Drinking and Clean Water Revolving Funds – $120 million (permissive set-aside)
  • Tribal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants – $56 million (result of a 2% tribal set-aside)
  • Weatherization Assistance Program – tribes are eligible to compete for competitive grants under the $5 billion program

OTHER PROGRAMS

  • Indian Reservation Food Distribution (USDA) – $5 million
  • Native Elder Nutrition (DHHS) – $3 million (Older Americans Act, Title IV)
  • BIA Indian Loan Guarantee Program – $10 million
  • Tribal Community Development Financial Institutions (Treasury) – $10 million

BONDING AUTHORITY FOR TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS

  • Tribal economic development tax-exempt bonds – $2 billion in bonding authority
  • Qualified Indian school construction bonds – $400 million in bonding authority

OTHER NOTES

  • Bill language permits Indian Tribes to contract and compact to build projects and create reservation jobs pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Acts