To the editor:
According to the story in Monday's Independent, Sen. Gary Dahms asked the Lyon County Republican convention on Sunday whether anyone present "could say they saw any positive effect on the economy and their personal situation" from the federal stimulus. Given how the question was reported, Sen. Dahms probably expected - and almost certainly got - a rather negative response from those in the room.
Since organizations in Lyon and Redwood counties received more than $27 million in stimulus funds, this seems like a good opportunity to remind local residents that, according to recovery.gov, the following organizations spent stimulus funds in the communities Sen. Dahms represents:
$6,075,931 went to schools in Marshall, Wabasso, Morgan, Redwood Falls, the Red Rock district, and the Milroy Charter School for fiscal stabilization (mostly to preserve classroom teaching positions).
$4,409,044 went to Redwood County, Marshall, Seaforth, and Redwood Falls for energy efficiency, a drinking water project in Redwood Falls, repair of an historical retaining wall, airport upgrades and community development block grants.
$8,306,596 went to the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative, primarily to continue educational services for children with disabilities.
$4,064,773 went to Western Community Action, for weatherization assistance, Head Start, and other community services.
$1,751,523 went to the Private Industries Council, mostly for services for dislocated workers.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it seems unlikely that the Republicans in attendance received zero benefits from these projects.
Even if they did not receive direct benefits, their neighbors did, either through services or continued employment. As Christians, we are called to care about our neighbor's needs. Sen. Dahms lives in Redwood Falls. If he drinks city water, he himself is a beneficiary. It would be surprising to learn that not one family at the convention has a child in any of the schools that received stimulus money.
Reasonable people can quibble about the long-term impact of the stimulus money, but to suggest that people in our communities did not directly and indirectly benefit seems disingenuous on Senator Dahms' part.