Utah unlikely to benefit from stimulus package

By By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

The $819 million federal economic stimulus package promises to deliver $1 billion or more to Utah’s economy during the next two years. Although the stimulus package is intended to jump-start the economy while helping create and save Utah jobs, some state legislators are proposing to give it to construction crews.

State Energy Office Director Jason Berry said crews would work to retrofit buildings and schools, and help low-income Utahns weatherize their homes, making them more energy efficient.

This plan would create temporary jobs and lower energy bills for some, but when the money runs out, it will only be a drop in the bucket. If the government really wants to effectively jump-start the economy, it should lower payroll taxes so consumers will have more money to spend and pump through the economic pipeline, creating growth and value.

Since it’s inevitably coming, Utah needs to invest its portion of the federal government’s stimulus package in education, programs and infrastructure that create long-term economic growth for the state. Particularly at the U, a lot of research has been done on alternative energy and energy-efficient solutions. With funding, these projects have the potential to generate billions of dollars’ worth of energy.

U doctorate students have developed small devices capable of converting heat into sound and then electricity. This technology, an alternative to inefficient solar panels, holds promise for changing wasted heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars.

The truth is, $1 billion doesn’t go very far when looking at the budget and needs for the entire state. In Utah County, proposals have been made to expand and update Interstate 15. This project alone is estimated to cost $5 billion. The goal for the government should be to allocate funds in areas that will generate the most value for the most people.

The U.S. government should learn from past mistakes. A stimulus package, with no transparency, no debate and no accountability, will not work. It won’t work in Utah, and it won’t work anywhere else. As in the case of a kid who does chores to earn an allowance, the reward means more because it was earned. Money given freely to industries, government and big companies with no strings attached will do little more than create a bigger tax burden and debt for Americans in the long run.

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Liz Carlston