S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom continues his careful tracking of the stimulus money, which he views as debt mounting up for the state. Eckstrom says that South Carolina is nearing the billion dollar mark of federal money coming in. Eckstrom, an outspoken critic of the federal stimulus package, says he is disappointed in the process.
“We were told that the stimulus money was being sent to us to stimulate the economy and It’s very disappointing that the money really is being directed into government services where we don’t have descretion as to how to spend it here at the state level. Washington is directing that the money be spent in one government program or another,” Eckstrom says.
He’s concerned over the way the jobs are being counted. The White House has directed each state to report on how many jobs are being created by the spending. He says these numbers are significantly being overstated:
“If money has been used to give raises to government employees, that the positions that those employees were filling that got raises, those positions were counted as jobs saved.
“We know that there has been some double-counting. We know that some agencies gave raises to employees and counted those as new jobs. We know that agencies funded summer-youth employment, temporary jobs that ended at the end of summer. And then Washington told those agencies to report those jobs as jobs created.”
Eckstrom says his task is to keep up with where the money is being spent.
“Of the $917-million that we’ve gotten through the end of last week, over $430-million of that has gone for Medicaid services. Nearly half of the money has gone to Medicaid services which is a program that provides healthcare to the indigent. I have no quarrel with providing money for healthcare to the indigent. I think we need to be clear that we’re not providing jobs when we provide benefits like that -government funded benefits,” the Comptroller General says.
Eckstrom reports that $170 million dollars has been used for unemployment benefits: “We know that there’s no one working if they’re receiving unemployment benefits. That’s just the opposite of job creation.”
He adds that jobs that are being created by the stimulus in South Carolina are quote- by and large government jobs.”