How Will You Know Stimulus Money Is Well-Spent?

Monday, March 2nd 2009, 10:22 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

UNDATED -- The State of Oklahoma asked for more than a billion dollars from President Obama's stimulus package.  State officials don't expect to get near that much but they are looking for a nice check from the federal government.  How will you know if the money is being spent in the right places?

"This is a lot of money.  It's a very large and confusing bill," said Oklahoma Policy Institute's David Blatt.

David Blatt is with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a government watchdog that focuses on the spending of state money.  He's spent the last few months watching President Obama's stimulus package take shape.

"So here you have the national website,," said Oklahoma Policy Institute's David Blatt.

Blatt is impressed with the president's emphasis on transparency, pointing to the website established to track the $780 billion plan.

"There's also room for public feedback here," said Oklahoma Policy Institute's David Blatt.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute has asked Governor Brad Henry to do the same.  They say keeping an eye on the money should be a priority.

"It's important because this is a large amount of money being spent on important purposes. We need to ensure that the public has confidence and trust that this money is being spent well," said Oklahoma Policy Institute's David Blatt.

The governor's office tells The News On 6 they have a plan in the works.  It includes the governor's cabinet serving on a committee to watch over the stimulus money.  Former Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage will be leading that committee.  The governor is also developing a website that will be similar to the president's.

The City of Tulsa is also expecting big piece of the stimulus pie. The mayor says it should get around $22 million just for infrastructure improvements alone. Plans are currently in the works to allow city residents track each step.

Mayor Kathy Taylor says a new page will be added to the city's website in the next month that will be dedicated to watching stimulus money.  She says showing Tulsa residents where the money is being spent is an important step.

"It's their money whether it comes from the federal government, the state government, or the local government.  It's the citizens' money," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

The state says its website should be up and running within the week.