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Economic Stimulus Package A Priority For Michigan

January 9, 2009

Lansing, MI - More than $3 billion is expected to come to cash-strapped Michigan to help the state budget, bolster the social safety net, and make infrastructure improvements to roads, bridges and schools. It's part of President-elect Barack Obama's proposed $775 billion economic stimulus package.

According to Michigan State University economist Charles Ballard, helping Michigan and other states with their budgets should be a key part of the plan.

"If we end up having to lay off teachers and other government employees at the same time that construction workers are hired to fix the bridges, you lose a lot of the impact."

In Ballard's opinion, the stimulus package should consist mostly of government spending, because tax cuts won't have the same stimulative effect. He also emphasizes that action must be taken soon after Obama takes office to keep unemployment from reaching double digits nationwide - and to limit the overall severity of the economic downturn.

"Instead of having one where the national unemployment rate goes to 11 or 12 percent, we might have one where it goes to 9 or 10 percent."

While experts agree the stimulus package will result in a larger federal budget deficit, Ballard says, the immediate problem of getting the economy healthy must come first.

"Debt reduction and deficit control and sound fiscal policy are crucial for the long run, but when you've got this forest fire right in your face, you need to deal with that first. If we don't do something to stem the shrinkage of the economy and to slow down the job losses, we will increasingly paint ourselves into a corner, in terms of the options that are available for us."

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI