Impact of stimulus funding still unknown

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 25, 2010

More than a year after Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — commonly referred to as the economic stimulus act — billions of dollars have been spent and figuring out where all the dollars have gone is a daunting task.

Practically every corner of the Miss-Lou has received money from the federal government’s economic bailout.

In total, the best estimate is that more than $34 million came to Adams County and Concordia Parish agencies to fund things including taser guns for law enforcement officers, special education programs, asphalt and solar-powered sludge dryers — no kidding.

Believe it or not, the dryers may have some of the longest-lasting impacts as their use is expected to save approximately $300,000 each year at the Natchez wastewater plant.

But determining the ultimate, long-term impact of the stimulus spending will require the passing of time.

Only then will we learn how many people misused or misappropriated funds — and there will almost certainly be some of that found.

In our view, however, much of the stimulus funding seems to have been spent on things that while needed, did not provide lasting economic impact.

Had we as a nation truly invested the money funneled into the stimulus program into more renewable energy research, for example, that investment might have been felt for generations to come.

Now, unfortunately, the stimulus will be felt by generations to come as the nation looks at extreme budget deficits.

In the latest figures from the White House, America is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. That’s a staggering legacy with which to saddle our youth.

The spending must stop — soon. The stimulus projects were fun, but the free-money party is nearly over. Now it’s time to clean up the mess.