Shocker: Stimulus Spending Has Only Prolonged State Budget Woes
Critics of the “stimulus” spending spree such as myself often pointed out that the portion of the spending that was directed toward bailing out state budgets was a waste of time. “Bailouts will only create the expectation of more bailouts” we said. The federal spending at the state level would only prolong the states’ budget problems because it didn’t address the cause of those problems which is overspending by state governments.
Now states are beginning to run out of federal stimulus money. I’ve written before about states that have run out of “stimulus” funds for unemployment benefits and have resorted to raising taxes on businesses (the folks we want to be employing people) in order to continue paying people (who we want to be working) to be unemployed. Now states are running out of the funds that were used to prop up their education budgets.
SAN FRANCISCO – The nation’s public schools are falling under severe financial stress as states slash education spending and drain federal stimulus money that staved off deep classroom cuts and widespread job losses.
School districts have already suffered big budget cuts since the recession began two years ago, but experts say the cash crunch will get a lot worse as states run out of stimulus dollars.
The result in many hard-hit districts: more teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, smaller paychecks, fewer electives and extracurricular activities, and decimated summer school programs.
The situation is particularly ugly in California, where school districts are preparing for mass layoffs and swelling class sizes as the state grapples with another massive budget shortfall.
What should have happened, rather than the federal government swooping in and spending a bunch of money borrowed from China against our children’s future tax payments to bail the states and their budgets out, is that states should have made some tough budgeting decisions. They should have had to find fat within the education budget, or cut fat from other parts of the budget, to make ends meet. But, as usual, the politicians didn’t want to make tough decisions. The politicians wanted to continue their profligate ways.
After all, as anyone who has run a household budget knows, running up a credit card balance is a lot easier than cutting back when times are lean. At least in the short term.
Well the short term is over. And the truth is that the “stimulus” spending has only made things in the states worse, not better.
State governments, much like the federal government, have simply grown too large. And it’s time for our state-level political leaders to be adults and to cut back.
Unfortunately, instead I think they’ll choose to pretend as though their only option is to fire teachers and enlarge classroom sizes….unless they get another federal bailout. Which is typical. Any time politicians are tasked with making cuts the cuts they propose are always to areas of spending like fire departments or police departments or schools. That way they can make spending cuts look unpopular and tax hikes (or another federal bailout) more attractive.