03/20/09 — Need vs. clout: Stimulus payments already not going where they should

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Need vs. clout: Stimulus payments already not going where they should

It might not seem significant to Goldsboro and other Wayne County residents to hear that Fremont and Mount Olive both lost funds for their water and sewer projects because of state cutbacks required by Gov. Bev Perdue.

That's the way the funding cookie crumbles, you might think.

But then again, remember, you are helping fund trillions of dollars in stimulus package money -- designed to finance projects just like this to boost the economy.

So why in the world wouldn't a necessary project like long-awaited sewer repairs be considered top priority?

And there, in an instant, you see why so many people are so worried about where your stimulus fund tax dollars are going.

Do you remember the publicity about the high-speed rail project linking Las Vegas to Disneyland? Well, that was part of the stimulus package.

And don't think that would have been the only questionable place money would have been spent.

The problem with packages like the stimulus plan is that they encourage money to be spent willy-nilly in areas where there is a legislator with the most clout, not the most worthwhile project. And in the rush to make the plan work, projects that should get more scrutiny, but that are ready to go, get the attention and approval, while others get passed over.

And if there are small towns like Fremont and Mount Olive that really need help, their calls might be unheeded because there are too many others demanding they receive their share.

Keeping an eye not only on the amount of the stimulus package spending at the state and federal levels, but where the money goes, are critical tasks now.

That is the only way to make sure the government makes smart -- and fair -- decisions.

Published in Editorials on March 20, 2009 10:26 AM