Indiana missed stimulus opportunity

October 2, 2010

Kudos to Mary Dieter and IBJ for the investigative journalism that led to the [Sept. 27] publication of the disturbing disclosure that the Daniels administration failed to pursue up to $103 million in federal stimulus money that would benefit Hoosier small businesses and workers.

Gov. Daniels is on record as saying that we need to do more to help small businesses and create jobs and just about everyone agrees with him.

Thanks to IBJ we now know that the Daniels administration assumed (without even making an application or calling any stimulus administrators in Washington for answers) that Indiana wasn’t eligible for the stimulus funds. This begs two questions: Why didn’t the employees of the Daniels administration have the ability to competently read the stimulus program documents or ask questions of those who could, and why did they make the negative assumption that we didn’t qualify instead of making an application for the funds in a good-faith effort to help promote small businesses and create jobs in Indiana?

We also know, thanks to IBJ, that more than a year later, after some Democrats began asking questions, the Daniels administration in a classic case of adding insult to injury paid a Washington consulting firm $188,000 of taxpayer money to tell the Daniels administration what its own members should have known: We were eligible all the time.

The Daniels administration’s response that [it] didn’t want to have to repay funds we weren’t eligible to receive doesn’t wash. The response assumes both that we weren’t eligible and that the stimulus administrators would mistakenly give us the money anyhow. This response assumes that the stimulus administrators are just as unable to read the stimulus program documents as was the Daniels administration.

As matters now stand, it appears that Indiana has lost millions of much needed stimulus funds (plus unnecessarily spending $188,000) either due to incompetence or to a policy decision not to apply for the stimulus funds made at the highest level of the Daniels administration.

Gov. Daniels, which is it?


Sid Mishkin

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