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Stimulus spending

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:33 PM CDT
The economy was tanking, and the federal government pumped in hundreds of billions of dollars  to stimulate a recovery.
   
But did that plan work? And how did it help locally?
Will
Back in 2009, the federal government spent almost 800 billion dollars to help our economy recover. It was a controversial move then, and in many ways still is today.

They also set up this website -- recovery.gov -- to help keep track of where the stimulus money was spent and how it was used.

Craig Dalton/Pensacola Chamber
Billion dollars has been paid out through the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Florida has received more than 11 billion in stimulus spending.
The competition for those federal dollars was intense.

Smaller population areas like Northwest Florida were fighting for their fair share.
"It wasn't a whole lot of rules because they were trying to get it to the communities as fast as they could. And so the complexity and the comprehensive efforts to put a grant together...it was an interesting time."

So where did our tax dollars go?
We followed the stimulus trail through Northwest Florida and the recovery.gov website allows you to do the same.

Stimulus money was handed out in the form of contracts, grants and loans.
(Section on how much was spent in each county - graphics or video)

Escambia County received more than 210 million dollars in 186 awards.
Santa Rosa more than 61 million in 47.
And Okaloosa better than 138 million in 252 awards.

The bulk of that money went to the school districts to help maintain staff as local tax revenues declined.
But millions of dollars also went to construction projects. Especially ones on our local military bases including more than 11 million to repair and modernize the headquarters building at NAS Pensacola.

But the questions remains did the millions spent locally really boost the economy?

Lewis Bear/Local Business Leader
"That money turned into the community and it employed a lot of people. There was construction done. There was a lot of small businesses that got help from it."


Eddie Jackson/Local Small Business Owner
"I haven't seen anything that stimulated the local economy. You know what I mean. I haven't experienced none of it. I haven't actually seen what they're doing."

Any time billions of dollars are dumped into the economy so suddenly. It can lead to waste, fraud and corruption.

The Community Action Program Committee in Pensacola got more than ten million dollars in stimulus money to help low income residents learn job skills, make their homes more energy efficient and get children ready for school in the Head Start Program.

But one of the organizations under the CAP umbrella. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance program found itself in hot water when a grand jury indicted LIHEAP Director Sandra Johnson with fraud after an FBI investigation uncovered misuse of CAP funds for personal gain.

Johnson pled guilty and was placed on probation for five years.

Will
One of the great features about the recovery.gov website is that they have this section to report fraud, waste and abuse.

There's an electronic complaint form, as well as a hotline number that you can call.
If you have an idea for a Waste Watch report visit weartv.com and click on Waste Watch to tell us about it.
Stimulus spending


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