Stimulus won't solve state's money woes

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ATLANTA --- Despite billions of dollars in federal stimulus money, Georgia is still feeling the impact of the recession and should brace for more bad news, a parade of public officials said Thursday.

They were testifying before a committee of Democratic senators who intend to take the comments and produce a list of recommendations in coming weeks.

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, who is a Republican, told the dozen legislators drifting into and out or the meeting that nearly $2.5 billion in federal funds has been distributed to local school systems but that it's only temporary relief.

"We are not anticipating good news," she said.

Sen. Ed Tarver, D-Augusta, wanted to know how bad it could get.

"At what point will it get critical for public education? At what point do the cuts in state funds be so great that they negate any impact we're getting from stimulus dollars?" he asked.

Mrs. Cox said she didn't know but that last week's announcement teachers would be furloughed for three days when students aren't present shows the situation was already critical.

Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was just as blunt.

"It's all but certain that the unemployment rate will continue to rise over the next few months," he said.

The current unemployment rate is a record 10.1 percent. The state's unemployment insurance trust fund that pays benefits to the 160,000 who currently qualify has dropped from $1.1 billion in December to $593 million today.

"I think the next 60 days will be critical in how we're going to manage it," he said.

And in the field of highway construction, where federal money for "shovel ready" projects was designed to give a quick boost to the state's economy, the results have been disappointing, said David Moellering, executive director of the Georgia Highway Contractors Association. That's because money problems at the Georgia Department of Transportation resulted in almost no traditionally funded projects in the last two years, meaning the new federal money isn't serving as a stimulus, just a replacement for the state funds.

"We have not seen the stimulus create any new jobs," he said. "We have only seen a suppression of layoffs."

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getalife
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getalife 07/31/09 - 07:14 am
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I saw on the news where in

I saw on the news where in one state some of the stimilus money went for the Arts, two of the recipients are porn movie makers and porn shows. Out tax dollars in action!!

InChristLove
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InChristLove 07/31/09 - 08:07 am
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And people wonder why we

And people wonder why we don't trust the President. This stimulus bill was suppose to create job but so far everything has gone downhill and it doesn't look like it's going to get better. What happens when the unemployment rate gets so high and there's not enough money to pay benefits?

getalife
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getalife 07/31/09 - 08:39 am
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And these Democrats and

And these Democrats and President are the ones that want to have the government control our health care?? I guess their track record on Medicare and Medicaid doesn't matter. We need CHANGE, but let us stop the wasteful spending first.

prusso
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prusso 07/31/09 - 08:46 am
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For a good interactive visual

For a good interactive visual on the unemployment and foreclosure meltdown in Georgia, check out these maps:

http://www.localetrends.com/st/ga_georgia_unemployment.php

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