Brandon Roberts manages the Working Poor Families Project.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, each state will benefit from investments that range between one and 65 billion dollars. With National unemployment at a 32-year high and the stock market at an 11+ year low, the need for these funds to be spent effectively is dire. For the sake of millions of Americans in need, as well as the American economy as a whole, this money must be spent openly, efficiently, and with accountability.
State leaders, faced with growing budget deficits and rising unemployment, will be under great pressure to spend their share of the recovery funds as quickly as possible. The urgency is great, so time is indeed of the essence. But while speed is important, ensuring that the funds are spent in the most efficient way possible is critical too. To that end, the Working Poor Families Project has just released a set of principles outlining how money allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be spent. The primary goals of the principles are as follows:
Make investments that stabilize the economy, promote growth, and benefit those hurt most by the recession.
Assure that funds are spent in an open and accountable manner that maximizes benefits.
You can read the principles here.
The Recovery Act funding gives states the opportunity to invest in low-income workers and their families. These are the people who have been hit the hardest by the recession. States should make sure to use resources that help workers get the education and experience needed to obtain middle-skill jobs in high-demand sectors such as construction, health care, and green industries. If used effectively these funds can foster economic growth and build secure economic futures.
As Bob Giloth, Director of the Family Economic Success unit at the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently noted, "The Recovery Act funding gives the states an opportunity to strengthen systems and programs that build low-income workers' skills and give them the tools to move ahead. States can use the funds to make systemic changes that will pay dividends for low-wage workers now and for years to come." State leaders should take the principles we've just released into account as they work to turn our economy around.
The principles have been endorsed by the following organizations:
Center for Community Change
Center for Law and Social Policy
Center for State Innovation
Coalition on Human Needs
Community Action Partnership
Corporation for a Skilled Workforce
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Economic Analysis and Research Network
Economic Mobility Corporation
Economic Policy Institute
Half in Ten
Jobs for the Future
National Employment Law Project
Transportation Equity Network
Progressive States Network
Wider Opportunities for Women
Workforce Strategy Center