Federal funds have strings attachedPublished 12:02am Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Americans were aflutter a few weeks ago when the automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequester, began to kick into effect.
The sequester cut billions in defense and domestic discretionary spending, among other things.
Unfortunately, the sequester doesn’t kill wasteful programs outright. It simply makes vast, across-the-board cuts to nearly every program.
But billions more federal spending could be cut out with little true effect on the livelihoods of most Americans, if Congress would only work hard on identifying and killing these. Those billions funnel back to local projects in the form of grants.
Some grants and the projects they fund make some sense — law enforcement technology grants, for example, help small communities get needed help to purchase technology that might otherwise be out of reach.
Other grants are baffling in nature. They’re among the head-scratchers of government.
The latest case in point is the $3.25 million, 10,000 square-foot fortress planned as a new super storm shelter in Natchez, adjacent to Natchez High School.
Don’t get us wrong; having a 10,000 square-foot building in town capable of withstanding an F5 tornado is a cool thing.
But should $3 million of federal dollars fund such a facility? We question whether or not that is the best use of federal money when our nation is running record budget deficits with no clear end in sight.
Of course, who can blame local officials for seeking out the grant funding? As long as it exists, the logic is simple: Someone is going to get it, so it might as well be us.
The problem is that all of us will be paying for this “free” money for decades to come.