Senator Coburn Questions 100 Stimulus Projects

Tuesday, June 16th 2009, 9:30 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

UNDATED -- Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn on Tuesday released a report detailing what he says are the 100 worst examples of waste in the stimulus law.  Coburn's list targets projects from coast to coast, and he says those unnecessary projects are costing taxpayers more than $5 billion.

Download the Full List.

Two projects on the list are in the Sooner State, including a sewer treatment plant in Perkins.  Earlier this month, a News On 6 investigation revealed that because of the strings attached to federal stimulus dollars, the projected cost skyrocketed by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

06/02/2009 Related Story: Stimulus Money For Perkins Put To Reality Check

"Perkins needs that water plant, and they should have that water plant. But, we shouldn't have had to pay 50% more because we used stimulus money," said Senator Tom Coburn.

Perkins homeowners saw their utility rates go up 60% this year and the stimulus money didn't help alleviate their burden.

"With the stimulus money, I thought that was going to pay for it. I don't understand why we have to pay for it, too," said Robert Allensworth of Perkins.

"Well, that's just plain stupid. It's not just wasteful. It's stupid," said Senator Tom Coburn.

One of Coburn's chief complaints is that small projects receive priority funding if they are shovel ready whereas larger construction jobs face a world of red tape.

"One of the reasons a lot of these projects are shovel ready is because nobody ever considered them a priority until now.  They have all this excess money to do them," said Senator Tom Coburn.

The other Oklahoma project singled out comes from Woodward Oklahoma where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was set to receive a million dollars to construct a guardrail around a lake that doesn't actually contain any water.    

That project has been nixed.

Coburn says the initial approval of this project illustrates a lack of oversight.

"We were sloppy.  We're not smart about the way we did it, and they way we're doing it," said Senator Tom Coburn.

Senator Coburn says he has two staff members whose job is following all stimulus contracts and keeping their eyes on any new ones that pop up to make sure the money is appropriated to necessary projects.