On Tuesday morning, Fiscal Research Division staff presented a dizzying array of figures, scenarios and caveats on how federal stimulus legislation would likely impact North Carolina’s K-12 and higher education budgets. The legislation could provide up to $1.4 billion to North Carolina over a two-year period. If all funds were dedicated to education, the legislation could increase monies for education budget by about 6.1 percent.
It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and all the programs. Still, one thing that shouldn’t get lost in the discussion – the purpose of the legislation: to stimulate an economy in crises.
Sadly, not a single legislator at yesterday’s briefing asked how such plans would stimulate the economy. Does $257 million in aid to low achieving and high poverty children stimulate the economy? Does $315 over two years to children with disabilities improve our economic situation? How about $16.2 million in education technology assistance?
If the economy is in need of swift and decisive action, why are monies divided over two years? The fact is, this legislation provides loads of federal money for states to minimize cuts and resources to a key public school teachers and administrators, who just also happen to be a key Obama constituency group. The legislation doles out more taxpayer money to stabilize budgets and provides monies to expand categorical and competitive grants. Stimulus? Not at all. It's just more of the same. if you’re robbing the future to plug budget shortfalls in current programs a more accurate term might be backfill — but that lacks the sizzle of stimulus.