Stimulus aiding at risk familiesThe state’s largest child advocacy group says federal stimulus dollars are doing more for Wisconsin than just repairing roads and bridges. A new report from the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families says the money is also helping to keep struggling families afloat.
By: Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The state’s largest child advocacy group says federal stimulus dollars are doing more for Wisconsin than just repairing roads and bridges. A new report from the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families says the money is also helping to keep struggling families afloat.
The WCCF report covers the period from February of 2009 through May of this year and focuses on tax credits, unemployment benefits, food stamps and health insurance assistance. According to the report, the federal dollars flowing to the state for these programs totals $3 billion which is equal to about $500 in direct benefits for each Wisconsin resident.
Study author Tamarine Cornelius says most of that money went to families with children in the form of unemployment benefits and food stamps. She says it would be hard to find a family that didn’t get some of the benefits through the Recovery Act.
“Some of these benefits, although temporary, can really help those families,” Cornelius says.
But Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says people need to understand that this influx of federal dollars is temporary, and eventually state tax payers will be called on to pick up the slack. He says there’s a lot of one time, or maybe two time federal money flowing through the state treasury particularly for programs like school aids and Medicaid.
“And those are programs that are funded with state tax dollars, so the more we do that the more of a structural deficit we have in the future,” Berry says.
The conclusion in the WCCF’s report warns that there will be a contentious debate in Congress about extending and expanding these benefits as the economy continues to falter and it’s not clear what will happen to families who still can’t find work or health care once the federal money dries up.