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Sen. Coburn’s 100 Top Wasteful Stimulus Projects Include School Spending

By Michele McNeil — June 16, 2009 1 min read
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To counter President Obama’s 100 stimulus success stories, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, has come out with his own Top 100 list—of wasteful or questionable spending.

School districts and school-related projects are not spared scrutiny, either. What education-related projects made his hit-list?

* Detroit Public Schools, getting some $530 million in stimulus funding despite a severe budget and financial mismanagement crisis. To be fair, much of the stimulus money is being doled out by existing education formulas (such as through Title I), or by new formulas (such as for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund) that Congress itself created. This one is marked No. 28 in the report.

* $10 million to be used for school lunch equipment and education technology in Oshkosh, Wisc. That’s No. 35. What the report doesn’t say is that Congress actually approved a $100 million line-item just for school lunch equipment. Are school districts supposed to let that money go to waste?

*$550,000 for a new skate park and tennis court and basketball renovations for Jenks Junior High School in Rhode Island. This one probably comes closest to violating Vice President Joe Biden’s commandment that thou shalt not build any swimming pools with stimulus money.

* California, for not encouraging school districts to rehire employees. While this may go against the main mission of the stimulus—to save jobs and jump-start the economy—hasn’t Sen. Coburn heard of the funding cliff? Even the U.S. Department of Education is warning districts against falling off that cliff. This is No. 81 in the report.

*$215,000 for new bike paths in Durango, Colo. to keep kids who walk to school from walking along the street. This is No. 98.

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