Economic Stimulus funds to Education – to stimulate the economy?

Arizona is looking at a $1 billion “Stimulus Windfall” in education funding from the Federal government – money that Gov. Jan Brewer welcomes because of the state’s titanic financial shortfalls over the next two years.

Under the terms of the stimulus, Arizona must continue a “maintenance of effort” requirement to be eligible for the education money. What this means is, Arizona’s education spending levels would have to be restored to levels equal to or greater than the immediate previous years

Did you get that? The pain of the past budget cutting drama in education would be undone. Programs that are marginal would be restored. And totally useless but previously funded programs would again come to life. We’re talking about $160 million in cuts that have already been made in various higher education budgets.

Here’s the real kicker, federal education guidelines give governors “some flexibility in the timing of release of the funds,” requiring that the money to restore prior funding be allocated by Sept. 30, 2010.

If other Federal stimulus programs are similar, there’ll be a whole lot of government money being released going into the mid-term elections in 2010.

Aside from the fact that Arizona has suffered like a drunken sailor following a liberty call,  with unsustainable spending during the Napolitano years and now facing the music of the morning after; what does this “stimulus” money to education do to actually stimulate the economy? In short, how does restoring misspent taxpayer monies with flimsy Federal paper debt do anything to create productive jobs?

Oh, did I say productive? Indeed I did. Let me define productive. Those are jobs that produce something of value that is exported from the local (or state) economy and from which new dollars are imported into the local economic pool. I highly doubt any of this stimulus money for education fits the criteria of productive economic employment.

But wave easy money in front of desperate politicians and watch them salute!

We are supposed to live within our means. When we spend beyond what we can afford, at some point either revenues must increase or we have to make some careful decisions. The Obama Administration is like the neighborhood dope pusher, insuring state governments remain addicted to other peoples money.

What should the Governor do? What would you tell your son or daughter who found themselves deep in debt without the proper incomes to support their lifestyle? I highly doubt you would simply continue to fund their debt, which is unless you wanted something in return.

Remember there’s a basic truth in life, and for my more (ahem) moderate readers, it is unfortunately black and white: There is no free lunch.


  1. The maintenance of effort provisions have been a sore point with factions of the education community requesting it is rolled back. Because the stimulus money is not for general educational funding but very specific federally related programs, the feds included that language to be sure the end result was not the supplanting of dollars but true relief. The other side of the story is that the feds have been underfunding their portion by millions every year (the feds supply 17% of special ed funding and they are legally liable for 40%), leaving the schools to use state dollars to supplant the shortage in federally required programs with money from the general fund. Basically, when the feds were using our state money to cover the cost of their programs supplanting was OK.

    But now that the states are short and the feds have finally stepped up and covered more…but still not all…of their own ticket, they want to make sure the states don’t use it as an excuse to cut their educational budgets. What the maintenance of effort does is allow districts to take the general fund money the state has been giving to districts, but was used to supplant underfunded federal programs like special ed, and use it in the regular operations. In K-12, this is likely to prevent increase class size, RIF’s, and loss of programs like transportation and athletics.

    In all the talk of how to help out schools from the federal level a revenue/expense neutral suggestion was to eliminate or suspend a portion of the mountains of paperwork required…not even a blink was offered in return. At both the federal and state level the amount of administrative dollars that are spent to harvest then compile different date for the state than the feds, adjust it into the different forms that ask the same things in different ways, file the reports and track the result would go a long way to ease the pain and do so without any injury added.

    But then what would all those analysts do and what would become of their salaries?

  2. Veritas Vincit says

    How much $$ is spent
    “… to harvest then compile different date for the state than the feds, adjust it into the different forms that ask the same things in different ways, file the reports and track the result(s)”

    Now multiply it over every state and federal agency currently existing.

    All non-productive employment being paid for out of the taxpayers wallet.

    Thanks for the jewel Ann!!

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