February 10, 2009 in City, Nation/World

Washington’s senators vote for stimulus, Idaho’s against

By The Spokesman-Review

Washington Democrats in the Senate voted yes on the proposed economic stimulus package Tuesday while Idaho Republicans voted no.

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell wasted no time in announcing programs in the bill that would be sending money to Washington state, including more than $495 million for roads and bridges, $648 million for education and other services that are facing reductions and $64 million in training for unemployed workers.

“Washingtonians are calling out for bold and immediate action,” Murray said in a prepared statement. “Today we answered.”

Cantwell said the proposal has more than $2 billion in higher Medicaid payments, plus money to create jobs in energy and health care, offer extra unemployment benefits to laid off workers and make college more affordable. The spending, which she called investments, could help stem the tide of lost jobs.

“We still have a long way to go to get our economy back on track,” Cantwell said in a press release.

But Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho both criticized the bill as being too expensive, even though they said it did contain some ideas they supported. Crapo said he helped add $6.4 billion in cleanup to facilities like the Idaho National Laboratories, but still considers the bill a dangerous attempt to “spend our way to prosperity.”

Risch said he agrees with a $15,000 tax credit for home buyers, but was unhappy that other changes. such as restrictions on new spending programs or making some tax changes permanent, are not included. Overall the bill is “a wish list of pet projects and massive spending” that will do little to help the economy, he said.

“This is a giant fraud on the American people,” Risch said.

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