How rural communities can seek stimulus funds

Chelle Delaney

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.