The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Editorials

April 16, 2014

Put money to better use

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced earlier this week the state would pass along $52 million in federal dollars to pay for various alternative transportation projects, such as bike paths and walking trails.

While the money is nice, it could be put to better use.

If the federal government — or state or local governments, for that matter — can dish out taxpayer dollars to pave 10-foot wide paths for people to walk along, then the rest of the governmental budgets at all levels must be in good shape. But we all know they are financial wrecks.

In Illinois alone, the state owes more than $7 billion as of December for goods and services. Illinois schools expect to see their share of state funding fall again next year to about 80 percent of what it should be. In District 118 schools, that means personnel cuts and reductions in programs.

Quinn said the federal dollars would pay for 71 projects and support 400 jobs. But how many jobs have been lost because of Illinois financial situation?

Politicians like to hand out grants such as these because it looks like they are doing something positive. All they are really doing is showing off with taxpayers’ money.

A better idea would be for the federal government to pass along this money as block grants to be used by states to pay bills, support education and repair infrastructure first, then using it for hiking trails once all of the necessary items are satisfied.

That’s not going to happen, but it should.

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