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Define the need before handing out stimulus

September 19, 2010
Morning Journal News

When Columbiana County school districts learned they were getting $4.63 million in stimulus money to retain teaching jobs, the funding was characterized as being crucial to prevent layoffs.

However, upon further study, the Journal learned that none of our school districts were facing layoffs, and instead, all of the districts were beginning the school year with a carryover. None seemed to be in desperate need of funding with layoffs looming. Officials at our county districts indicated that instead of saving teaching jobs, the money will be socked away for a rainy day, that very well may come next year when state education funding is scheduled to be cut.

We don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth and we're grateful that our schools are receiving this extra windfall to be used in future funding shortfalls. But we're bothered by the fact that it was labeled as crucial to preventing layoffs and presented as a godsend to our ailing local school districts.

Now, we can't help but wonder if this is the way other stimulus funding is being spent. And if so, perhaps that's why the stimulus funding hasn't performed the task of improving the economy as it was intended to do.

We've seen many instances where job creation has amounted to nothing more than funding government jobs that were already in existence or the dollars were doled out as a kind of "corporate welfare" to completely fund private sector jobs for businesses which had no intention of retaining those jobs once the public funding ceases.

Perhaps government officials need to have a better definition of crucial need before they go handing out money in a willy-nilly fashion. If they get a grip on where stimulus money is truly needed and be sure that it is being managed effectively, it may go a lot further toward improving the economy.



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