Brown likes stimulus bill; Voinovich voted against it

WASHINGTON U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is happy the Senate approved a stimulus bill he says will send ne
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is happy the Senate approved a stimulus bill he says will send nearly $8 billion to Ohio to help the state's residents cope with the recession.

He's less happy that Ohio's state government won't be getting all of the money it was supposed to get to keep from cutting services.

Meanwhile, Ohio's other senator, U.S. George Voinovich, isn't happy at all. The longtime Republican politician voted against the stimulus bill when it passed the Senate on Tuesday.

Brown, talking about the stimulus bill in a telephone conference call Wednesday with Ohio reporters, said it will provide $7.9 million in direct funds for Ohioans and provide a break to 4.2 million Ohio residents.

The Senate bill differs from a bill passed earlier by the House, so the two bills will be combined by a House-Senate conference committee into a final bill, which must then pass the House and Senate.

Brown hopes the conference committee can fix a late change in the bill.

On Monday, Gov. Ted Strickland said he urged Ohio's congressional delegation to restore $25 billion in aid to state and local governments that was cut out of the bill at the urging of a coalition of centrist senators that criticized the Senate bill as too expensive. Without help from Congress, Ohio will have to make cuts in college education, mental health treatment and other services, the governor said.

"Put simply, without substantial fiscal relief for states, more Ohioans will lose jobs and fewer Ohioans will have access to the critical services that our state and local communities provide," Strickland wrote in a letter to members of the delegation.

Brown, who said he discussed the matter with the governor Tuesday, said he has written to members of the conference committee and asked them to restore the cuts.

Voinovich said Tuesday he voted against the Senate's $827 billion stimulus bill because it increases the national debt and has too little money that actually will help the economy.

"I worked toward and was prepared to support a package that put people back to work, injected needed capital into our economy and provided a safety net for families who the recession hit the hardest," Voinovich said.

But the bill passed by the Senate has too little money for projects such as highways, sewers and housing and too much funding for other programs that should go through the normal appropriations process, Voinovich said.

"Our nation is facing a catastrophic debt and this bill simply adds to that debt without fulfilling the well-accepted stimulus criteria that the funds be timely, targeted and temporary," he said.