1789, “common defense and general welfare”; 2015, # of grants and subsidies has run amok

By Russ Phillips The most accountable government is that which is closest to the people. Thus, the least accountable is that which is furthest away. That’s why it is best, when possible, to have government functions located in the cities, towns, townships and counties. However, at times it is necessary to have functions determined at the state level and the federal level. The federal government over the years has taken on way too many responsibilities and this is very apparent when examining the various tax incentives provided to corporations and … Continue reading

Federal Grant Programs for States Are on the Chopping Block

Government Executive By Timothy B. Clark January 12, 2015 House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by other House Republican leaders, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill earlier this month. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo WASHINGTON — With Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, one might expect a serious assault on federal spending and deficits, most likely focusing on domestic discretionary programs that prop up the budgets of state and local governments. If it comes, the attack will be directed at budgets starting in federal fiscal … Continue reading

It’s really simple: pay more taxes and/or change priorities

We have an $18+ trillion debt. To chip away at it all that needs to be done is pay more taxes and/or change the priorities. Of course, there are many different government programs that contribute to this debt. As this debt continues to grow, ironically, our country’s deteriorating infrastructure continues to be ignored.

The country’s infrastructure – roads, bridges , seaports – are in need of attention. However, there seems to be little desire to do anything other than “a patch here and a patch there.”

It boils down to how much are we willing to spend (i.e. taxing the people) and what are the priorities? (This isn’t limited to infrastructure!)

Federal gas tax since 1993 has been 18.4 cents/gallon. (more)

Some advocate increasing this tax. Others favor reducing current expenditures. Part of this 18.4 cents is used for the Transportation Alternatives Program that includes the recreational trails program and the safe routes to school program. (more)

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail used $36 million of this 18.4 cents for its creation. (more)

The Transportation Alternatives Program was apportioned for the 2014 fiscal year almost $820 million and this included more than $81.5 million for the Recreational Trails Program. (more, including individual state apportionments)

A state-by-state listing of the 2012 Discretionary Grants with a description and funding amount are listed here. As a suggestion you might want to search “trail” in this information.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in its publication “Trust or Bust: Fixing the Highway Trust Fund” lists “Fig. 4: Options for Savings Within the Highway Trust Fund” and “Fig. 5: Options for Savings to Offset General Revenue Transfers.” One of the options for savings is to eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program that includes the Recreational Trails Program. (more)

Paying more taxes or revising priorities becomes complicated when 535 Congressional members and the President must reach a consensus. Help them out by contacting your members. Regardless, we either pay more taxes and/or change the priorities.

New $1 million Seymour marquee on I-65 met with mixed response from locals

Indiana Economic Digest 12/9/14 Love it or hate it, the new Seymour welcome sign near Interstate 65 is causing a lot of buzz around town. Construction of the 13-foot wall and sign with surrounding landscaping, located on the north side of U.S. 50 just west of the interstate exchange, was completed in late November at a cost of about $1 million… …The majority of funding for the welcome sign came from a state grant, Luedeman said, and was specifically designated by the Indiana Department of Transportation for the project. “This … Continue reading

Government grants…There is no “free” money

The Rochester Sentinel
Voice of the People
12/19/14

There is no free money

Federal grants. State grants. It seems like you can’t read the paper without seeing reference to government grants being sought and received. Recently this has been the case for our area: the Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the USDA announced in the Dec. 17th Sentinel, the revitalization of downtown Rochester, the development of the Nickel Plate Trail and many other projects of recent years. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a grant is sought and received for the Times Cinema restoration.

This is not unique to the Fulton County area. Recently the town of Seymour in southern Indiana received a state grant of about $800,000 from the Indiana Department of Transportation to erect a welcome sign on the edge of their community. No doubt the seeking of grants is occurring throughout our country. It is always easier to spend someone else’s money even though we’re fooling ourselves when we think this is the case with government grants.

The issue is not the projects but rather the means of funding them. We send money via a bunch of different taxes to Indianapolis and Washington D.C. and if “lucky” some of it is returned as grants along with a lot of bureaucratic red tape and stipulations to receive the grant and administer it. Our country has amassed a federal debt of more than $18+ trillion. There is no “free” money.

One of the most frequent uses of government grant money is the creation of walking and biking trails. This grant money comes from gas taxes. Yes, tax money for the maintenance and repair of roads, highways and bridges is being diverted to trails. Again, the issue is not the project but how it is funded. A favorite phrase of those who advocate for the grants is “enhancing the quality of life.” Make no mistake, this is a sales pitch.

It is a matter of priorities and when spending your own money, i.e. at the local government level, a mindset of priorities will quickly come to the fore. If it appears to be “free” money, i.e. from the state or federal government, then the concept of “priorities” quickly disappears.

This matter and other Fulton County as well as Indiana and national government topics are being explored at www.myusagovernment.org, a recent project created to inform my fellow citizens.

Russ Phillips

FEDCO gets $99K grant

The Rochester Sentinel
12/17/14

Fulton Economic Development Corporation has received a $99,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The grant money will be used to continue FEDCO’s low interest loan program and to provide funding for training to eligible businesses in Fulton County, FEDCO said in a press release. Eligible businesses include startups that have met application requirements or existing businesses based in Fulton County with less than $1 million in gross annual sales and less than 50 employees.

This is the third and largest such grant the USDA has awarded to FEDCO in the past five years.

FEDCO Executive Director Terry Lee said the funding will provide a boost to an already successful program.

“These additional funds are a vote of confidence from the USDA and will allow FEDCO to help more Fulton County businesses start and grow.

We’ve created a very comprehensive program for small businesses that includes a wide range of resources and the USDA’s grant is at the heart of what we offer,” he said.

For more information, contact Amy Beechy at amy@yourprojectmatters. com or 574-709-7955.

(Related article: ROCHESTER, Ind., 7/15/10 — A $75,000 USDA Rural Development Grant awarded July 6 (2010) to the Fulton Economic Development Corp…FEDCO received a $50,000 grant last October…) (more)