Bill Would Rescind Stimulus Funds
Rehberg Criticizes $120 Million for Road Signs
BY MIKE NOYES
Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg has signed on as a co-sponsor to legislation that would rescind all stimulus funds that haven't been allocated to specific projects.
Rehberg is one of 20 co-sponsors to the House legislation introduced by Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R- Kansas). The bill states that upon passage it would rescind "all unobligated balances of the discret-ionary appropriations made available by division A of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act..."
Tiahrt introduced the bill to the full House in June after a similar motion was voted down in the Appropriations Committee.
In a letter to Congressman Tiahrt, the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform gave their support to the bill to rescind unobligated funds.
"Several months into the implementation of the package there are still no clear reporting requirements in place, and instead of unpre-cedented transparency and accountability, taxpayers have to learn of numerous instances of waste and abuse from week to week," according to the letter signed by ATR President Grover Norquist and Center for Fiscal Accountability Executive Director Sandra Fabry.
On September 23rd, Rehberg spoke on the House floor to criticize stimulus spending on road construction signs that say funds for the projects were provided by the stimulus.
"They represent the worst kind of political credit-taking," Rehberg said of the signs in comments posted on YouTube.
Rehberg also said he believes the signs are inaccurate.
"The dollars Congress allocates comes from taxpayers," Rehberg said. "In this case it would have been more accurate to say, 'A project funded by our children and grandchildren.' "
Montana Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch said it has been standard practice, even prior to the stimulus, to put signs at construction projects with the tag line "Your tax dollars at work." He said the stimulus signs were a request of the federal grants to fund the projects and that they comply with the goal of transparency.
"I believe the public wants to know where this money is spent," Lynch said.
Lynch said the signs are a part of the contract when jobs are awarded. He said 106 signs have been placed so far, with 61 of the 69 stimulus projects active.
Of $120 million in awarded bids, roughly $185,000 has been spent to produce and place the signs, according to Lynch.
Mike Noyes is an Investigative Reporter with the Bozeman-based Montana Policy Institute.