Some Question Stimulus Spending in Texas

Some stimulus funds go to fire alarms at VA campus, loans for doggie day care, oil-change shop

By Amanda Guerra
|  Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012  |  Updated 3:58 PM CDT
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Three years after the stimulus was initiated, experts argue whether or not the funds were well-used in North Texas.

Amanda Guerra, NBC 5 News

Three years after the stimulus was initiated, experts argue whether or not the funds were well-used in North Texas.

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Millions of dollars of the president's stimulus package passed three years ago were awarded to replace fire alarms and as loans to an oil-change shop and a doggie day care.

Three years after plan was signed into law, unemployment numbers in Texas are still higher than before the plan passed.

Unemployment in Texas has fallen to 7.2 percent. It was 5.7 percent in 2008, just before the recession hit, and jumped to 8.0 in 2009 and 2010.

President Barack Obama's administration pushed the $800 billion stimulus plan through Congress in 2009, saying it would create more jobs.

So far, Texas has received close to $33 billion of the allocated funds.

Most of the stimulus funds in Texas went to state agencies such as the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education. Local businesses were awarded $2 billion.

The goal was to create tax cuts and fund new projects, such as road and bridge construction, school renovation and the creation of energy-efficient buildings.

But some local economists are scratching their heads at how some of the money was spent.

Through a partnership with ProPublica Recovery Tracker, NBC 5 found that close to $5.5 million was dedicated to replacing fire alarms at the Dallas VA Campus of the VA North Texas Health Care System.

In Collin County, a doggie day care complete with a water park and nap time received a loan for close to $770,000. And in Hood County, a Kwik Stop was awarded a $1.4 million loan.

Some economists say that while the stimulus package sounded nice, the money was poorly spent.

In a New York Times article, ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell said the funds were too spread out. Instead, the money should have been awarded to more dedicated programs that would've turned out more jobs.

But supporters of the stimulus argue the money did create jobs. Unemployment would be even higher -- possibly in double digits -- without it, they say.

NBC 5 reached out to the VA Dallas Campus, the dog day care and the Kwik Stop.

A VA spokesperson said it applied for the stimulus money because the fire alarm system needed to be replaced and it was an extensive project.

The owner of the Kwik Stop said he regularly applies for loans to help his business.

NBC 5 was unable to reach the dog day care.

More: ProPublica Recovery Tracker Texas

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