Local advocates for stimulus package make their case

02/09/09 Mitch E. Perry
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This morning in front of a boarded up Wendy’s on Armenia Avenue in Tampa, City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena and Florida Consumer Action Network Director Bill Newton used the dilapidated building as a backdrop to call on Sen. Mel Martinez and local members of Congress to support the economic stimulus bill being debate in Congress.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Florida’s economy is in bad shape. Last month’s unemployment rate was at the state was over 8 percent, and a report issued Monday says Florida leads the nation in home overbuilding.

According to Metrostudy, the city of Tampa had 932 single-family housing starts in the fourth quarter of last year, a full 1/3rd drop from a year earlier. That marked the first time in 23 years that the Tampa bay area market had fewer than 100 housing starts.

Saul-Sena said people in Tampa are hurting.

Joining Saul-Sena and Newton at the news conference was Denise Carrera, who says she has not held a full time job since 2003 – and says that’s not because she hasn’t been trying to get one. Carrera told reporters that she worked in the clerical field when she was last fully employed.

Although the bill has had virtually no support from Republicans in Washington, that’s not the case in Florida. It was announced today that Gov. Charlie Crist will introduce President Obama in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Saul-Sena praised Crist for going to Washington last week to advocate for the bill to the state’s Congressional delegation. And she said that depending on how the final bill is written and passed, Tampa will benefit.

Officials could not say how well Florida would benefit in terms of the number of jobs if and when the bill is signed into law.

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