Ellison briefs City Council committee on economic stimulus package

CITY HALL — U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison briefed the City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee today on the proposed economic stimulus package and what Congress is doing to deal with the nation’s mortgage foreclosure crisis, among other things.

Ellison said Congress is looking at increasing the affordability of mortgage refinancing opportunities and adopting an anti-predatory lending bill based on Minnesota’s bill that calls for the licensing of all mortgage originators.

As for the stimulus package, which President Bush is expected to sign off on this week, Ellison said it doesn’t address “structural problems” in the nation’s economy, which he argued leave the middle class behind. Today, it’s rare for a family of four to get by one income, he noted.

City Council Member Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) echoed Ellison’s comments about the stimulus package. “It’s a real disappointment because sending someone a check won’t create jobs,” he said.  

The Intergovernmental Relations Committee also reviewed the city’s proposed 2008 federal legislative agenda.

Here are highlights of proposed appropriation requests:
— $4 million for the Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center, which is planned for the top of the Minneapolis Central Library on Nicollet Mall.
— $1.25 million to eliminate the city’s combined sewer overflows, which collect storm water runoff and sewage in the same pipe. Some older parts of the city still have combined sewer overflows. During heavy  rainfalls, untreated sewage can flow into the Mississippi River as a result of the combined sewer overflows.
— $2 million for lighting around the city’s Grand Rounds Scenic Byway — 50 miles of parkway.
— $6 million for a new Emergency Operations Center.

(To see other requested items and review a copy of the proposed agenda, click here).