Economic Opportunity Group Highlights Stimulus Package Inclusion of Long-term Recovery Investments and Reforms

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The bipartisan policy organization Hope Street Group said today that it was encouraged to see long-term as well as short-term economic issues and reform measures addressed in the House and Senate versions of the stimulus proposal.

“We know how critical it is to address the short term crisis,” said Executive Director Monique Nadeau. “But if we don’t start at the same time to strengthen the true drivers of economic opportunity, we risk bouncing from crisis to crisis.”

“We’re in the unfortunate position of having to fix the car while we’re driving it.”

Hope Street Group’s Economic Opportunity Index has identified education and health care as the two largest economic drivers; its American Dream Agenda lays out the policy solutions necessary for strengthening both.

The stimulus packages approved by the full House and Senate Appropriations committee both include funding in health care and education in ways that begin to address underlying problems as well as immediate concerns.

For example, they both include funding for health effectiveness research; the House bill carves out specific funding for education data systems that are critical to tracking student achievement and for teacher performance pay systems needed to attract and retain quality teachers.

“Between the two bills, there are several important accountability measures for education,” said Ms. Nadeau.

She said the House version would focus more attention on data systems, would increase funding for an existing teacher incentive program, and has more rigorous equitable teacher distribution provisions, while the Senate added important language on standards.

She also urged policy makers to continue to focus on long-term investments when debating and formulating legislation and regulations.

“The discussion we are having and will continue to have in the coming months about our economic strategy will be most productive if it takes place within the context of whether or not it contributes to a real Opportunity Economy,” she said. “Does it move us closer to providing equal access to quality education through accountability and reform?  Does it ease the health care burdens on small business?

“If we can consistently step back and debate specific provisions of this and other policy proposals within the framework of sustainable economic opportunity for the greatest possible number of Americans, then we will have taken a significant step toward making it a reality.”

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