Education cuts, unemployment “devastating” without federal stimulus money, officials say

By KRISTI E. SWARTZ
kswartz@ajc.com

Without the $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money that’s started flowing to Georgia school districts, the budget cuts to education would be “devastating,” School Superintendent Kathy Cox told a senate panel Thursday morning.

“They’re down to the bone,” Cox said. “The fat was gone a long time ago. They’re down to the bone.”

Cox is staring at a 20 percent budget cut that she knows will increase as the state struggles to pull out of a recession. Yet, she’s under pressure to account for every dollar in stimulus money that’s been flowing into the state and down to school districts.

“We’re struggling to ensure that we’re going to have that transparency and accountability and trying not to get caught two years from now with federal auditors saying, ‘Why didn’t you know.’”

She’s not the only one feeling that heat. The senators who gathered as part of the Committee on Smart Recovery all had the same question:

Where is the federal stimulus money going in Georgia, and who’s in charge of that?

“With (the stimulus package) hopefully some of the jobs will trickle down to the counties that need it the most,” said Sen. Freddie Sims, (D-Dawson) “But we tend to see in Georgia that those dollars tend to stop in certain areas of the state and do not trickle down.”

Sims’ southwest Georgia district is among the poorest in the state.

“Who is in charge of dispensing them and how can we get a piece of the pie,” she asked.

3 comments Add your comment

Reg373

July 31st, 2009
6:30 pm

Government spending created many jobs in the Great Depression, Hoover Dam for example. Some paint that as socialism, others as a wise public investment — found a cool site; Balkingpoints ; incredible satellite view of earth

Same old song

August 4th, 2009
5:30 pm

There are too many strings on stimulus money. We’re in a crisis and our local leaders need to be able to utilize funds for areas of need that we, their constituents, dictate not our federal out of touch leaders. It’s our money and we want some say in how it is spent. Eliminate government handouts until our country is solvent again and let the workers keep their income. Guess what? We’re going to have more to spend, businesses will improve, and we can get out of the economic pit that we’re in. Trusting Washington to solve our problems is not an option anymore.

Jack Henry

August 8th, 2009
4:21 pm

Let the teachers union figure out how to fix the problem they seem to have all the right answers.