When the economy tanks, state and local tax revenue plummets. But objective need for social services increases:
One in four students in Fairfax County qualifies for free or reduced-price meals this fall, up from one in five three years ago. In Montgomery County, 29 percent of students were deemed eligible for meal subsidies in October, up from 26 percent in October 2007. In Prince William County, the eligibility rate increased from 29 to 33 percent, and in Prince George’s County, from 46 to 52 percent.
As the lunchroom poverty barometer rises, schools are solidifying their role as centers for social services.
Aside from cutting taxes, which conservatives presumably support though they somehow manage to never mention this aspect of the program, the biggest thing the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act did was have the federal government step in to help plug gaps in state and local budgets. That helps resolve exactly this sort of situation. People who urged ARRA’s defeat or who continue to urge its early cancelation are backing policies that will lead to widespread malnourishment of children with lasting impact on their education and life prospects.