Growing up my parents were always saying “We are watching our pennies “. It seemed like a strange phrase to me then but now as I watch our state and federal governments spending the economic stimulus money, it makes sense. I want someone watching our pennies.
Not only do I want someone watching oour pennies, I want someone telling me what they are doing with my pennies. There are some very important facts that we, as North Carolinians, should know about how the stimulus money is being spent–
** What is the money going for ?
** Will the projects being funded benefit the community ?
** Is the money going first to the families and communities hit the worst by our economic downturn ?
** Will there be transparency and openness in the process of awarding money and contracts ?
** Who is receiving the money ? ( If there is more than one contractor or subcontractor, we should know all of them.)
** Is there a timeline for this project? Are there incentives to finish it on time or penalties if it isn’t ?
** Is it creating jobs or preventing people from being laid off?
** How many jobs is it saving or creating ?
** Are these jobs a temporary fix or long term employment ?
** What do the jobs pay?
** Do these jobs have benefits like health insurance ? disability ?
** Are people receiving contracts becuase of their past campaign contributions or another connection to an important official ?
** Who is going to be accountable for the success or failure of these projects and grants ?
**And perhaps most importantly of all, how are we going to know any of this?
The state and federal governments each have recovery websites but there is no easy way to figure out exactly who is the recipient of a grant or contract, who any subcontractors may be, whether the money is really creating a job, and if the people most in need are being served.
They are our pennies and we should be able to watch how they are being spent. We need regular, frequent reports from the President, Governor, Congress and the General Assembly that are public, easy to understand and easily accessible. We need to be able to hold our elected officials and other public servants accountable for how they are spending our money. We also need to pay attention and hold them accountable.
Remember to watch your pennies
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