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Ensign: Nevada Shortchanged in Stimulus

Republican Sen. John Ensign charged on Friday that the stimulus bill negotiated by his home-state colleague, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), shortchanged Nevada on education funding, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Ensign did not mention Reid — who is gearing up for a re-election battle in 2010 — in his statement, but he did assert that the measure would raise taxes and deliver minimal benefits in the Silver State. “As a result of this so-called stimulus bill, Nevadans will pay higher taxes to subsidize education in other parts of the country,” read a statement by Ensign. Ensign, along with all but three of his Congressional Republican colleagues, voted against the stimulus while all of Reid’s Senate Democratic Conference voted in favor. Ensign’s office said the Congressional Research Service and U.S. Census rank Nevada last in per capita education spending, meaning the state will receive the smallest per capita allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to Ensign’s office, Nevada will receive $543 million in education funds, coming out to $209 per person, while Alaska will receive the most generous education allocation at $284 per person. A spokesman for Reid told the Review-Journal that his office has yet to see the final allocation, but he pushed back against the charge that Nevada was shortchanged. “If the Republicans had their way, Nevada wouldn’t be getting anything,” the spokesman said. Meanwhile, at least one Congressional Republican who opposed the stimulus has issued a statement trumpeting the new funding headed toward his district. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who voted against the final stimulus deal on Friday, said in a statement that the legislation should be a boon for the Central Florida Commuter Rail project. “The timing couldn’t be better,” Mica said in a statement. News reports in Mica’s district suggest that local transportation and education officials are eager for the new pot of money. President Barack Obama, in his Saturday radio and Internet address, said he will sign the bill “shortly” — a Monday signing ceremony is expected. He called the $787 billion stimulus package “a major milestone on our road to recovery.”

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