Stateline Story

Will Obama Jobs Plan Include Aid to States?

State and local governments may be winners under the jobs plan President Obama is set to announce before a joint session of Congress on Thursday (September 7), according to media reports.

The plan, which is now reported to come with a price tag of $300 billion , will focus significantly on tax cuts, an extension of government benefits for the unemployed, and economic development initiatives - including, as Stateline reported last week , a version of a popular Georgia program that places job seekers into training positions with employers who are hiring. But the plan also is expected to include direct aid to state and local governments, which have contributed to the nation's 9.1-percent unemployment rate by laying off thousands of public workers of their own.

Bloomberg reports that the state and local aid " would focus on halting layoffs of teachers and first responders ," though it is unclear how the assistance might be structured. Overall, Bloomberg notes, the president will emphasize spending on education and transportation, two important areas for all states.

States, for their part, have not been actively lobbying for more federal assistance, at least not through their official lobbying arms in Washington, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since the Republican takeover of many state capitols after last year's elections, many GOP governors have ruled out asking the federal government for financial help, and Democrats have not been counting on Washington either. The 2009 federal stimulus package, which propped up states during the depths of the recession, has largely expired, and most states have responded by making deep cuts to programs and personnel.

Thousands of state worker layoffs were recently averted in Connecticut and New York after governments and public worker unions reached agreement on new contracts, but the threat still looms in many places. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to announce a major round of layoffs as soon as this week, The Associated Press reports