What did the $787 billion federal stimulus package do for Columbiana County?
Even though it sometimes felt like "pulling teeth," Morning Journal reporter Tom Giambroni spent the last several months extracting and culling information to answer that question.
What did he learn? In a nutshell: the massive spending package passed by Congress last February, brought at least $31 million in federal stimulus money into the county. This funding resulted in the direct creation and retention of at least 92 government or government-funded jobs, mostly in our local school districts. Officials say numerous additional jobs have been created in the private sector, especially among companies awarded contracts for stimulus construction and road resurfacing projects.
Although that funding was welcomed, it appears that it really has not had a significant impact on our county. Of course we obviously did not receive a huge portion of the pie, but if the stimulus package has had a similar effect in other areas of the country, it's no wonder the economy is still failing and the number of jobless claims continues to increase rapidly. And, we question why there isn't an agency or government office keeping better tabs on who received the funding and how it was spent.
The Obama administration is now talking about a second stimulus bill in the neighborhood of $150 billion, which would extend funding to some projects beyond 2010. We can't help questioning whether this would be worthwhile, considering the impact this will have on the country's already huge deficit.
What do you think? Read Tom Giambroni's story and the accompanying list of local stimulus projects that begins on Page 1 of today's Morning Journal and form your own opinion.
We just can't believe that handing out an additional $150 billion without keeping better track of how it will be used is the way to solve this economic dilemma.