What do you think? Should the governor and Utah lawmakers take the $101 million that is Utah’s portion of the latest education stimulus bill, or should they stand on principle and let some teachers lose their jobs?
The State Office of Education estimates the money could save up to 1,500 jobs in Utah. The problem, of course, is that it’s one-time money, and salaries continue from year to year. If you use this money to keep teachers, how are you going to pay them next year?
My take? Go ahead and accept the money. If Utah doesn’t take it, it would simply go to some other states. Maybe the economy will have recovered enough next year so that tax revenues will increase and the money to keep those people will magically appear.
I doubt it, however.
As this story notes, the Bush and Obama administrations have now pumped $1.2 trillion into the economy. There is little to show for it. The official unemployment rate is a little less than 10 percent, but as this website shows, it’s really probably more like 22 percent.
When you take money out of people’s pockets to give to a set of workers, you don’t really create a net benefit to the economy. The best way to stimulate things is to let people, including private businesses and investors, keep more of their own cash. When the private sector recovers, tax coffers will begin to swell again, and then schools will be funded with real money, not one-time favors to teachers unions. Remember, states once collected a lot more money with the same, or lower, tax rates than what they currently have.
For starters, this means not letting the Bush tax cuts expire. It also means abandoning the stimulus mentality.
Sure, take this money. Congress isn’t going to change its mind about appropriating it. Why let someone else have it?
Just don’t expect it to solve any long-term problems.