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May 4, 2001
MARTINEZ PROMOTES PRESIDENT'S BUDGET, AWARDS GRANTS IN MIAMI
MIAMI - A typical family of four in the Miami-Dade County metropolitan area will save $1,600 under President Bush's tax relief plan, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today told members of a local construction group.
Martinez, the former county executive of Orange County who became the 12th HUD Secretary in January, met today with the Latin Builders Association on the first day of his three-day stay in Miami. Martinez returned to Florida to assess first-hand how HUD can better assist Miami and Dade County. During the trip he will also renew ties with the faith-based organization that provided him with a temporary home when he arrived in Florida in 1962 from Cuba.
"The federal government is collecting twice as much in taxes than it did 20 years ago," Martinez said. "Enough is enough. The American people need - and deserve - tax relief."
An estimated 5.4 million Floridians will benefit from the proposed tax cuts. Nearly 2.8 million families will get relief from a reduced Marriage Penalty, while 1.3 million families will get relief through doubling of the Child Tax Credit.
The President's tax relief plan is expected to particularly benefit low- to moderate-income area families. A family of four earning $35,000 a year will pay no federal income tax. A similar family earning $50,000 a year will receive a 50 percent tax cut, while families with annual incomes of $75,000 will receive a 25 percent reduction.
Martinez also promoted the Administration's proposed spending plan and its impact on the state in several important areas, including public education, health care, highway funding, housing assistance for low-income families and the environment.
Specifically, the HUD Secretary said funding for the state's public schools will increase to more than $1.9 billion to ensure that no child is left behind. Spending on local Head Start Programs will increase to more than $240 million to better prepare the state's young children for success in the classroom. Another $1.3 billion is targeted for highway funding.
In addition, spending on housing assistance and services for low-income families will increase to $1.1 billion. Programs to protect the state's environment will exceed $93 million, and another $15 million is earmarked to help conserve the state's natural resources.
"Whether it's cutting the nation's debt, protecting Social Security and Medicare or letting working families keep more of their paychecks, this budget is good for America and good for residents of Miami and Dade County," Martinez said.
The President's budget request for HUD for fiscal year 2002 is $30.4 billion.
The money will provide housing assistance, promote homeownership and economic
development, expand affordable housing opportunities, enforce fair housing laws
and help meet the needs of the homeless. The proposed budget includes:
- The American Dream Downpayment Fund, which will provide $200 million
to help more than 130,000 low-income families purchase homes;
- Section 8 Homeownership vouchers, which will enable low-income renters
to use up to one year's worth of rental assistance vouchers as a downpayment
on a home or to make ongoing mortgage payments; and,
Renewing the Dream Tax Credit, which will promote homeownership opportunities for the rehabilitation or construction of an estimated 100,000 affordable homes.
Some $6.4 million of the funding is in HOME grants, which are used to construct and rehab multi-family rental properties, improve substandard housing, assist new homebuyers to acquire, construct and rehabilitate homes, and assist tenants in paying their rent.
Another $800,000 is for Emergency Shelter Grants, which are used to provide food and shelter on a short-term basis to homeless people.
Later on today, Martinez, Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Congresswoman Carrie Meek will tour parts of Miami, including the city's Empowerment Zone, and will visit the Helen Sawyer Assisted Living Center where they will present residents with computers.
On Saturday, Martinez returns to Camp Matecumbe where he spent time after coming to this country as a teenager. Martinez and more than 14,000 other children fled Cuba in a clandestine faith-based humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan. Just 15 years old, Martinez left his family and everything behind for the promise of freedom in the U.S.
The three-day tour concludes on Sunday when Martinez takes 40 children from three Miami public housing projects to the Florida Marlins game at Pro Player Stadium, where Martinez will throw out the game's first pitch.