In addition to $1.8 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for New Mexico, an additional $78 billion in grant funds is available to the states for programs from health care to weatherization, said Lt. Governor Diane Denish.
Denish and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan spoke to community and government leaders on Thursday about the availability of funds through grants to state and federal agencies from the federal act, better known as the stimulus package.
"Leave no money behind," Denish said. Other states may be sending their funds back, but New Mexico can use those funds, Denish said.
Denish said she viewed the federal funds as more of a stabilization package for New Mexico because of the state's budget deficit and the global economic downturn.
Denish said her office had partnered with the New Mexico Community Foundation to bring notice to different communities, especially those in rural New Mexico, about the funds and programs available.
Kathy Keith of the N.M. Community Foundation briefly highlighted what funding programs were available including those for individuals, families, businesses, schools, non-profits, governmental agencies and municipalities.
Here are highlights from the presentation:
* Individuals can take tax credits for certain expenditures, including a new car.
Provisions have also been made for increased unemployment benefits, relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax, child tax credits and tax relief for laid-off workers.
• First-time time homebuyers, those persons who have not owned a home in three years, can apply for low interest loans, including down payment assistance, Denish said.
• “If you applied for a Pell grant (for higher education) and were turned down, apply again," Keith said. New monies are available.
• Only 65 percent of the individuals who could qualify for food stamps apply, Keith said.
With the downturn in the economy affecting people livelihoods, there are additional funds and residents should apply, Keith said.
• Businesses can also look to relief for suspended loan payments, and funds for business expansion through approved applications to the Small Business Administration, Keith said.
• The federal package also includes funding for schools and healthcare. The state will receive $630 million to fund Medicaid and $260 million to be distributed to school districts.
• There is 15 times more money available for weatherization projects, that also include items such as appliances as well as insulation, updating heating and cooling systems.
• In addition funds available through the state's Department of Public Safety for law enforcement, fire departments, programs for at-risk youth and others.
Franklin McCasland, chairman of the Quay County Commission, said that at Monday's commission meeting grant possibilities would be discussed. If an upgrade to the Courthouse's electrical and HVAC systems would meet qualifications, that may be a program to pursue, he said.
At Thursday's city commission meeting, Commissioner Robert Lumpkin suggested that the city explore ways to hire a grant writer part time or full time, who could pursue funds for the city. "It's going to be very competitive," Lumpkin said. "I'd like to see Tucumcari put its best foot forward and best effort toward getting these grants written."
For more information on the ‘Net
l http://beingaman.senate.gov/policy/stimulus guide.cfm
(Guide compiled by New Mexico Congressional Delegation)
(Benefits for Native American Communities)
(Information on weatherization program)
(Complete listing of all federal grants)