NBC12 Editorial: Short-term stimulus funds cannot fund long-term spending

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Education Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Economic Stimulus Package will bring billions to Virginia. The governor and Virginia Dept. of Education are trying to determine how it should be disbursed.

As with any stimulant, there is a certain glee that permeates an environment that is generally full of economic despair - but what are the side effects?

With billions for health insurance, infrastructure and energy, education is perceived as a big winner in the new stimulus lottery.

The University of Washington has predicted that 600,000 teaching jobs will be eliminated in the next three years due to state cuts. In the new package, $39 Billion is going directly to K-12 to keep teachers on the job.

While many of the "Great Generation" and Boomers are trying to leave their children with trusts and their grandchildren with 529 accounts to fund college, we have identified a new stimulating option: debt.

The national debt for 2009 will triple to $1.6 trillion with the banking bailout and stimulus package. The total debt is $36,000 for each man, woman, and child in America.

The cautions are abundant in relatively uncharted economic waters, but one is clear - states are now allocating two-year stimulus funds for education.

The focus is clearly on teachers. The question is, what happens after two years? When short-term funds are used for long-term expenses and hiring staff, what are the consequences?

It's like spending a savings account to pay your mortgage. It is an economic death-spiral unless you anticipate that new sources of revenue loom on the horizon.

While it is clear that significant moves need to be made to restore confidence in the economy, perhaps we should beware of being "over stimulated" and stick with some of the tough decisions now.

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