I managed to join Moveon.org on Wednesday to drop off some 600 petitions from Rhode Island residents asking for Senator Reed to support the Obama stimulus plan. The message from Reed’s staffer was that the Obama stimulus plan could be passed “in the next few weeks.” That seems like a hopeful sign, as long as the plan is properly vetted and the necessary “teeth” of accountability are in there.
In Rhode Island, however, there might be particular problems with getting the money of the stimulus into the right places. Why? Because as Tom Sgouros explains in this excellent analysis of the Governor’s budget (and as Paul Krugman has also warned about) most states are cutting back just as the stimulus is coming through, meaning that much of the stimulus will need to be applied to fix the devastating cuts that “little Hoovers” like Carcieri are proposing such as the cuts to public transportation and RITE Care.
In addition, Pat Crowley explains in this post that education funding for Rhode Island from the Obama stimulus may also be a problem because we don’t have an education funding formula. The General Assembly could choose not to use any of the stimulus to help with our lack of state funding for education this year.
We are the only state in the entire country that does not have an education funding formula. State Senator Hanna Gallo of Cranston has proposed one, but the bill cannot seemingly get anywhere. Now we will find out if the General Assembly can come up with a fair way to allocate some of the stimulus funding to education, or whether other priorities beat education out and our schools will continue to be starved into deficits.