The U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general says states are using money from the economic-stimulus program to plug budget holes instead of boosting aid for schools, and singles out Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania education department, Michael Race, said education spending won’t be clear until lawmakers complete the state budget. Spokesmen for both the Connecticut and Massachusetts departments of education said their states’ plans for spending money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund were approved by the federal Education Department and were in compliance with the stimulus rules.
Congress included $100 billion for education in the stimulus law earlier this year. Part of that was a nearly $40 billion fund to stabilize state and local budgets; almost three-quarters of that money has already been awarded. But as the bill made its way through Congress, lawmakers decided not to prohibit states from using the stabilization money to replace state aid for schools. They required states to maintain spending on K-12 schools and colleges but only at 2006 levels, which allowed most states to make significant cuts to education.
That flexibility may be leading to a reduction in state support for public education, the inspector general said.
A version of this article appeared in the October 07, 2009 edition of Education Week as States Using Stimulus As Patch, Critique Says