The Herald Bulletin

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Editorials

April 8, 2009

Editorial: Stimulus dollars being spent well

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced last week that he will spend $24 million of the state’s federal stimulus money to improve state parks and the aesthetic of Indiana and give 2,000 young people summer jobs.

This is an admirable use of some of those funds.

The 2,000 workers, who will be employed during the next two summers, will be ages 16 to 24 and come from low-income families. Those already receiving unemployment benefits will be given a hiring priority.

The work will include restoring habitat areas, building and rehabilitating trails and restoring buildings. This is work that would probably be neglected under normal state budget expenditures, and that’s precisely why it’s an excellent use of stimulus funds.

Daniels should be commended for using foresight with the stimulus funds. Some Republican governors — Sarah Palin in Alaska and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, both exploring runs for the presidency in 2012 — have decided not to use the stimulus. Such partisan moves are not helpful to their respective states, and it’s a credit to Daniels to realize what a difference the stimulus funds can make.

The work will have a positive effect on the state’s economic development efforts. The Herald Bulletin, in past editorials, has noted the connection between aesthetically pleasing surroundings and companies looking for nice places to relocate.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there is a state park here in Madison County that could be made even better and used as a selling point for county economic development teams.

It’s also good for Hoosiers who like to visit state facilities for camping, horseback riding and picnicking. The parks will be in better shape.

The downside is that after two years the money will be gone, and it will be up to the state to provide such maintenance. Also, the jobs will be gone. Having that working experience, however, could give a lot of young people a chance to move onto other jobs, as the governor noted.

The jobs and work could start as early as May 1. If you’re visiting a state park and notice a flurry of improvement activity, you’ll know the stimulus dollars are being well spent in Indiana.

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