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GLIN==> Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 8 October 2001


*  Emergency LIHEAP Funding
*  Census Adjustment
*  Regional Airports Facing Cash Crunch, New Expenses
*  Central City Revitalization
*  Bonneville’s Machinations

        Co-chairs of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), last week called on President Bush to release $300 million in emergency Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to help low-income families and the elderly pay their utility bills.

        In May, President Bush pledged to work with Congress to provide emergency funding to assist low-income households pay for exceptionally high heating bills from last winter.  In July, Congress approved $300 million for this use, yet the administration has not yet released that money to states.  The emergency LIHEAP funding was meant to help states address unmet energy assistance needs resulting from high energy costs and to meet critical needs, including significant increases in arrearages, disconnections, or unemployment.

        Partially in response to appeals from the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, the House Labor-HHS Subcommittee last week appropriated $1.7 billion in regular LIHEAP and $300 million in emergency funding for fiscal 2002.

        CONTACT:  Kris Sarri at the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition (224-0606) and Olwen Huxley with the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition (226-9497).

        Adjusted census numbers will not be used for the apportionment of congressional districts, but the Commerce Department will decide by mid month whether to use those counts for the allocation of federal funds.  According to a new report released by advocates of using adjusted numbers, 31 states and the District of Columbia would gain an estimated $4.1 billion in federal funding over the fiscal 2002-2012 period if adjusted population data are used in the allocation formulas for eight major federal grant programs.  However, the report calculates that most northeastern and midwestern states – including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin – would lose from the use of adjusted census numbers.  The report is available at http://www.cmbp.gov.

        CONTACT:  Matt Kane at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (313/582-6244).

        Institute staff are tracking the financial impact of the September 11th attacks on the region's airports.  The recent decrease in air travel has translated into lost revenue for many regional airports, which depend on earnings from landing fees, passenger facilities charges, and concessions to finance their operations and pay their debts.  At the same time, those airports must comply with new, costly security upgrades.  A longer-term concern is declining investor confidence in airport bonds – already downgraded by credit rating firms – which are the traditional means of financing airport construction and expansion projects.

        CONTACT:  Fred Helmstetter at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-5200).

        Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) on Monday, October 15, will host a Northeast-Midwest workshop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on proven strategies for revitalizing central city neighborhoods.  Such strategies foster the collaborative, well-designed reuse of vacant or underused land in order to achieve quality housing, vibrant commercial centers, public amenities, and walkable communities.  Representatives of city government, the Grand Rapids Master Plan committee, local businesses, community foundations, and nonprofit organizations will examine how Grand Rapids can apply models of mixed-use development.

        CONTACT:  Barbara Wells at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-5200).

        The Northeast-Midwest Institute last week released a paper reviewing the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA’s) recent efforts to stiff taxpayers, kill salmon, subsidize smelters, and obtain a blank check from taxpayers.  The paper encourages policymakers to reject BPA’s attempt to shift its losses to taxpayers and to obtain an additional $2 billion in borrowing authority (57 percent increase) from the U.S. Treasury.

        Bonneville, the paper argues, needs to be held accountable.  It cannot lose $1 billion and assume a taxpayer bailout.  It cannot avoid its obligation to protect the fish that its dams threaten.  It cannot offer artificially low energy prices to a few select customers at the expense of the nation’s taxpayers.  In short, this rogue agency must be brought under control.  The report is available at http://www.nemw.org/bpa_machinations.pdf.

        CONTACT:  Dick Munson at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-5200).