It covered deficits, paid teachers, supported infrastructure projects and funded social services, among other things.
But that injection of money is quickly drying up, and though the economic recession officially ended after 18 months in June 2009, its ramifications are just now hitting home for state and local governments across the nation.
Indeed, the recession has been post-dated.
Only now are the checks coming due for the collapse of the housing market, the financial shock on Wall Street and the subsequent unemployment surge.
In Nevada, this is evident in the state’s continued high rates of foreclosures, bankruptcies and joblessness.
And perhaps more tellingly, it is apparent in the record deficits facing lawmakers in Carson City, Washoe County and even Sparks.
Take the Washoe County School District, for example.
The WCSD has been forced to cut $73 million from its budget over the last four years. But it faces an additional $75 million in reductions this year alone.
Of course, this means that major spending cuts are necessary to balance budgets — lest financial insolvency add to our woes — and layoffs, wage reductions and service cuts are inevitable consequences.
Even if tax increases are enacted at the state level to help limit cuts, particularly to education and social services, billions of dollars in funding reductions across Nevada will remain.
And make no mistake, taking a scalpel to the budget will hurt.
The pain will be felt most strongly among society’s vulnerable populations. Seniors, the mentally ill and at-risk youth are sure to be uniquely harmed as public safety and health care funding are slashed.
Moreover, cuts to education will undoubtedly produce a less-skilled and under-qualified workforce, jeopardizing the nation’s competitiveness and subjecting young adults to a devalued job market.
There is no doubt that deficits and debts are a serious concern for governments across the United States and must be addressed in a focused and timely manner.
But anyone who thinks that you can have massive spending cuts and at the same time produce the economic growth necessary to throw off the shackles of the recession isn’t being intellectually honest.
And much like the effects of the recession have been post-dated, so too will the full range of impacts arising from unprecedented spending cuts.
That’s a prediction you can take to the bank.
I’ll see you around.
Joshua H. Silavent is a reporter for the Daily Sparks Tribune. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.