More news reports are claiming that there is no relationship between need and how and where the Obama administration is spending its $787 billion in stimulus money.
“Stimulus spending is literally all over the map,” according to the investigative group ProPublica, which analyzed government stimulus contracts, grants and loans. A report dated Aug. 5 claims that “some battered counties are hauling in large amounts, while others that are just as hard hit have received little,” ProPublica claims.
The report follows similar ones by FOXnews.com and the Wall Street Journal suggesting that some of the areas hardest hit by the recession are receiving the least amount of stimulus money.
The WSJ found that high unemployment states such as Florida, North Carolina and Oregon are among those with the lowest per capita stimulus fund payouts, while well-off states such as North Dakota and South Dakota are receiving stimulus money at higher per capita rates.
ProPublica found similar patterns. It noted that Trigg County, Ky., for instance, has an unemployment rate of 15.8 percent and gets about $2,419 per resident in stimulus funds. One state over in Indiana, LaGrange County has an identical unemployment rate but gets only $33 per resident in stimulus funds.
The reports note that, of the stimulus funds earmarked for higher education, most go to Pell Grants to help lower-income students pay for college. A precise accounting for how the higher education funds are being spent will not be ready until October, a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson said. President Obama’s stimulus program to ease the effects of the recession was passed six months ago.
A new study of educational needs by region by the Lumina Foundation for Education shows that areas hardest hit by the recession and ones with the highest concentrations of minorities are the ones with the greatest need for improvements in education.
The states with the greatest needs run from areas with large African-American populations from southside Virginia and northern North Carolina, through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Latinos in the San Fernando Valley of California are hard hit as are Native Americans living from San Juan to Hidalgo counties in western New Mexico.
Yet states such as North Carolina and Florida are getting among the lowest per capita levels of stimulus funding. South Carolina, most of whose counties fall into the “most critical” educational needs category, is getting a higher level of stimulus money per capita, but much of it is going to clean up the Savannah River Plant, which makes nuclear material for atomic weapons, the Journal notes.
According to Lumina’s Education Needs Index, among states with the least educational needs are ones in the northern part of the United States such as North Dakota, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Yet North Dakota, whose unemployment rate in June was 4.2 percent, the lowest in the nation, gets a relatively high level of per capita stimulus funding, reports show.
Early analysis of stimulus spending shows that much of the first tranches of money tend to go to road or brick-and-mortar projects.
ProPublica quotes Elizabeth Oxhorn, a White House stimulus spokesperson, as saying that much of the money has moved through existing grant formulas that do not take into account regional economic swings. Future stimulus spending will be more discretionary, she says.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com