The Corner

What Can’t Stimulus Dollars Buy You? Part 1

Love of course, but, also, they don’t buy more education spending.

As we know Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina has been repeatedly attacked for refusing the stimulus education dollars. According to his detractors, his decision would penalize students and teachers in the state. Well, let’s see: The Governor’s Executive budget, released earlier this year, shows that the governor’s office did not use a single stimulus dollar to fund the education budget. The budget funds education at a Base Student Cost of $2,339.

In the House budget, lawmakers used both the stabilization funds that are the topic of all the discussion in South Carolina AND an additional $220 million in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage stimulus dollars and funded education at a Base Student Cost of $2,342. 

See the two budgets side-by-side here.

So for all the whining and finger-pointing going on about how Sanford using the stimulus money to pay down the state debt or not taking the money at all would result in massive education cuts and layoffs of teachers, we see that the difference in education funding is $3 dollars per student. 

 

Then why has the Senate Finance Committee supposedly created a “chaos budget” showing thousands of teacher layoffs and closed prisons if the money is turned down? As its name itself makes clear, this apocalypse budget is nothing more than a political stunt, since what we are really talking about here is $3 per student a year.

Here is the beauty about this story: It’s educational. Lawmakers in South Carolina and around the country can learn from Sanford’s example how to reject parts of stimulus money that would make their states worse off in the future while protecting education dollars by making necessary cuts in their budget. This is called fiscal responsibility.

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