It may not have been ready for President Barack Obama to sign on Inauguration Day, but his $827 billion stimulus package is finally expected to come to a vote next week, thanks to a few moderate Senate Republicans agreeing to a slimmed-down version of the once $920 billion proposal.’ Most Republicans still oppose the stimulus package, however, arguing that the stimulus should have the sole purpose of creating jobs and cutting taxes.’ To appease as many Republicans and conservative Democrats as possible, supporters of the bill have cut billions of dollars worth of spending in hopes of getting it passed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, much of these cuts are coming from an area where money is needed most: education.
As the proposal stands now, $16 billion from school construction, $3.5 billion for higher education construction and most importantly, $40 billion to assist states in covering education costs while at the same time trying to balance their budgets have been axed from the House version of the bill.’ It was necessary to trim some fat from the original stimulus proposal, but denying states money for education during this financial crisis is a misguided move by the Senate.’
The Labor Department has reported that 600,000 jobs were lost last month.’ When jobs are at a premium, many are going to want to go back to school and obtain a higher degree to increase their qualitative value rather than loose money on unemployment or a poorly fitted job. As more adults return to school to further their education, now is not the time to be making it harder for states to support their educational institutes.’ Also, undergraduate students will be more inclined to look into graduate schools if they find that their job choices are limited.’ Therefore, the federal government should be using this opportunity to strengthen higher education because everyone will benefit from a more skilled workforce.
The billions of dollars that were stricken from the House version of the stimulus package would have been a great help to K-12 education as well.’ Boston Public Schools could be eliminating over 400 teaching positions as a result of the city’s budget crisis, and this will only increase class sizes in a school system that is already struggling.’
Education spending may not directly create jobs, but there is no better investment than one in the future workforce.’ Republicans may not like the idea of spending billions right now, but the economy will be better off several years down the road.