In 2010, West Virginia received $126.3 million in federal "stimulus" money, as President Barack Obama attempted to buy a little time and goodwill instead of finding real economic solutions. The federal government threw so much money at states two years ago that some are finding it difficult to spend it all.
Instead of providing a hand up to struggling state economies, all that taxpayer money appears to have spurred little more than bureaucratic confusion and lethargy. One recent example is that of the West Virginia State Police, for whom the state spent $1.7 million in federal stimulus money to buy 77 expensive, high-speed Internet routers. Today, only one is fully functional.
Components needed to make the routers work with the agency's other systems could cost $270,000. State Police notified West Virginia's Office of Technology of the problem a year ago, and, in the meantime, the state has lost two years of free maintenance that were part of the five-year service warranty that came with the routers.
A spokeswoman for the state Office of Technology simply says officials are still looking at possible solutions. Apparently, they have got more pressing matters to consider, such as trying to figure out how to spend the remaining $9 million in "stimulus" before Feb. 13. Three weeks into the next presidential term, any unspent money must be returned to the federal government.
Of course, the U.S. Commerce Department Inspector General's office is now reviewing West Virginia's use of the tens of millions of dollars the federal government tossed its way two years ago with appallingly little planning or guidance.
Though poll after poll shows West Virginians were not fooled by Obama's vote-buying attempt, that is no reason we should not be putting those dollars to better use than nearly $2 million worth of non-functioning equipment. Administrators of the grants must find a sense of urgency in trying to do some good for the state's residents before time runs out.