Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Obama Signs $26 Billion Teacher Jobs Bill; NJ Governor- It's "Ill Advised" , But We'll Take The Cash

Saying that accepting New Jersey's $670 million share of the emergency $26 billion from the Feds for aiding Medicaid and preventing the layoff of several thousand teachers in the Garden State was "ill advised", Governor Chris Christie decided to take the money just the same.

Mike Drewniak, spokesman for the first term Republican governor, said the following....

"(Christie) believes that using this type of non-recurring funding for operating expenses is ill advised because it will disappear after one year."

Christie will apply for the money so that the state can distribute the money and not the federal government. But according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, the funds would reach New Jersey even without Christie's application. The law is written so the Department of Education could “bypass the state government and make awards directly to other entities within the state” if a governor doesn't wish to submit an application.

The bill, which narrowly passed the Senate last week, was was approved in a vote along party lines, 247-161. Democrats say the bill will help to save the jobs of 300,000 teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees who would otherwise be laid off due to state and local fiscal woes.

The $26 billion would be paid for by closing a tax loophole used by multinational corporation, and reducing certain foodstamp benefits.

This afternoon, President Obama signed the bill into law.

Republicans railed at the bill.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)- "Where do the bailouts end? Are we going to bail out states next year and the year after that, too? At some point we've got to say, 'Enough is enough.'"

OK, Le Grande Orange....let's say $26 billion doesn't go to the states to help 300,000 public employees keep their jobs. Remember the the Good Old Days of Ronald Reagan, and the "Trickle Down Effect"? Well, it can work both ways.

For example, here in New Jersey 10,000 teachers, cops, firefighters, librarians, sanitation workers, and others would all lose their jobs; with this bill maybe 3,900 could be retained. We would add all 10,000 to the rolls of the 9.5 million unemployed nationally, many of whom would be picking up unemployment checks from the state. Some would have college loans that have federal guarantees that would be in danger of default. Mortgages need to be paid; those laid off could default, leading to more foreclosures. And those who aren't paying a mortgage are renting, and paying off car loans, or supporting aged parents. Those 10,000 might have families; what if they had to go on foodstamps, at taxpayer expense? And those 10,000 won't be spending as much money at the local restaurants, grocery stores, or clothing shops.

And those 10,000 won't be paying local, state, and federal taxes so there would be less money going into those coffers.

Remember....it's all about trickle down.

And while these 10,000 are being laid off, class sizes will get bigger, school bus service will be contracted and less available, full day kindergarten will be half day, sports in middle and elementary schools- and even in some high schools- will be cut back or eliminated, security at schools will be privatized (at taxpayer expense), programs will be eliminated....and say "goodbye" to art and music; if you're shocked at the cultural illiteracy of many young people, it could get worse without access to creative activity.

Rudolf Flesch once wrote a book titled Why Johnny Can't Read- And what You Can Do About It. This bill may not give us any answers. But one thing is crystal clear; laying off 300,000 educators surely isn't going to help educate a nation that is falling behind the rest of the world in math and science skills, where the dropout rate in the inner cities continues to rise, and the functional illiteracy of our youth inches upward.

And Republicans say.....just let it happen.....it costs too much.

But the cost isn't the problem....that would be the price we all would pay by not acting.

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