WASHINGTON, D.C. | August 10, 2010 -
Eighteen months ago, we gathered in this chamber to debate economic stimulus. Republicans wanted to help job creators, but the majority said no, “let’s borrow and spend.” And borrow and spend they did, to the tune of $862 billion.
Back then, Democrats sent nearly $100 billion to states and districts to prop up school budgets. It would save 300,000 jobs, we were told, and improve public education. It was a one-time investment, we were told – they would not be back for more.
Yet here we stand, and they're back for more.
I know my schools, I know their challenges, and I understand the difficult budget decisions our governors, superintendents, and school boards are being forced to make.
And I know a federal bailout is not the answer.
Spending another $10 billion we do not have will not improve public education or protect the very best teachers. Earlier this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told us “Today, the status quo clearly isn’t good enough.” Yet the status quo is exactly what this $10 billion will perpetuate.
Schools will continue to operate on “last hired, first fired” policies that ignore student achievement when deciding which teachers to keep in the classroom. These dollars are not targeted based on jobs at risk or student needs – this is nothing more than an across-the-board inflation of state spending.
Spending another $10 billion we do not have will not balance state budgets or bolster our economy. Because of major increases in the number of school personnel in recent years, states are operating education budgets they cannot afford. At best, inflating state education spending for another year will kick the can down the road – merely postponing the tough decisions and allowing states to overextend themselves for another year.
At worst, another bailout will make states more dependent on the federal government and more susceptible to Washington’s political whims.
Finally, spending another $10 billion we do not have is not good for our children and grandchildren. This bill is not “paid for.” We are looking at a Washington shell game of tax hikes and deficit spending gamesmanship. It dips into stimulus spending we could not afford 18 months ago to pay for even more stimulus spending we cannot afford today.
I oppose this legislation. I encourage my colleagues to vote against this rule and against the underlying legislation; I give this whole effort an “F.”
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