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A bipartisan deal reached to avert U.S. government default. Also on our Tuesday rundown: a new report calculates the high hospital costs for employers. Plus, new legislation could help protect Florida's at-risk wildlife.

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Arizona Labor Lauds Stimulus Package Passage

February 16, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Arizonans who are relatively well-off may not notice it, but labor leaders say the Obama stimulus package will make a noticeable difference for working families whose lives are affected by the recession. Bob Grossfeld, a spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99 in Phoenix, says it'll be enough to matter.

"Go ask people affected. Adding to unemployment benefits, for instance, works out I believe to another hundred dollars a month or so. That's groceries. That's significant."

For those who still have jobs, Grossfeld says the plan's tax credits to buy homes and cars should achieve the purpose of stimulating the state's economy by getting dollars out and making them spendable.

The stimulus plan includes major funding for highway and school construction, but Grossfeld would like to see more emphasis on manufacturing jobs to stabilize Arizona's economy, which currently depends on the boom-and-bust housing market.

"A friend came and visited and drove around for a bit and then, you know, asked me,'What is it that people do here? What do you make?' And unfortunately it's pretty much the same answer today: Well, not much of anything."

Grossfeld believes the Obama administration can help Arizona achieve a manufacturing base by changing policies that he says encourage companies to relocate out of the country.

"It's not that American workers can't make widgets as good as anybody in the world. But when government policies encourage the export of jobs, they're going to follow the money. And that's exactly what they've done."

Grossfeld predicts further legislation will be needed before the recession ends, including changes in government policies along with more stimulus spending.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ