Yesterday, Governor Doyle’s administration gleefully reported that 8,284 jobs had been “created” or “retained” due to the federal stimulus money received in the most recent state budget. The key word here is “retained” – because much of the funds the state spent merely displaced state general funds, which had been used to pay for state government prior to the economic downturn.
For instance, the final budget increased state funding for public schools by nearly $250 million in federal stimulus aid, then reduced the state share by the same amount. So it’s basically business as usual, just with a different funding source.
In effect, the state took out a one-time loan in order to keep government workers in their jobs. It would be like using a credit card to make your car payment, then patting yourself on the back for your achievement in “auto retention.” (Ironically, the Legislature is making a big push to shut down so-called “payday lenders,” who they believe prey on the desperate. No word on how this differs at all from the state running to the federal government for quick cash to keep buying their groceries.)
So congratulations to Governor Doyle and all the legislators who had the courage to go to Washington on their hands and knees and beg for an infusion of one-time stimulus money. We’ll see how many self-congratulatory press releases they’re sending out during the next budget while they’re raising taxes to “retain” these jobs when there’s no more stimulus cash.