The Obama administration included in its estimate of 640,328 jobs “saved or created” by Porkulus around 7200 positions in Ohio’s school systems. However, the Columbus Dispatch reports that the jobs listed were never at risk of being cut this year, and many of them wouldn’t have been cut at all, with or without the stimulus block grants (via Patterico):
The Obama administration announced Friday that federal stimulus money had created or saved about 7,200 education jobs in Ohio as of Sept. 30.
Although a couple of hundred of those jobs were in Columbus City Schools, the district acknowledged yesterday that many of the “saved” jobs definitely wouldn’t have been lost in the first place, and others might not have been lost at all. …
Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a conference call with reporters yesterday that the country has “325,000 who would literally not be in the classroom today if not for these funds.” But not in Columbus, where the district’s finances looked pretty solid before the stimulus. Voters passed a levy last November that should keep the district’s books largely in the black until 2012.
The district explains how the shell game worked:
So was the district on the verge of laying off 36 school administrators?
“No,” Dannemiller said, explaining that the reporting choices were “created” and “saved.” “They weren’t ‘created,’ obviously, so our only other choice was ‘saved.’ “
In other words, if the state applied the money, it had to report any positions on which they were spent as a job saved or created — even if the job was in no danger of disappearing. It’s only one step removed from simply dividing the amount of money spent by a mystical job-creation number taken out of thin air and announcing numbers that exist only in the realm of the theoretical.
We can multiply this example through every application, especially in state block grants — Virginia, for example. The states loaded the books on Porkulus with spending on education and public safety, not because they didn’t have the money for that, but because they could therefore redirect their own spending on less necessary positions. State budgets are fungible; the states can redirect general fund spending where they wish.
Porkulus is nothing more than a shell game for Obama and the states, which mainly benefited the state employees in SEIU unions who may have faced real job elimination in non-critical positions — the kind of belt-tightening states should have been doing all year.