Stimulus Signage Stirs Up GOP Angst Over Wasteful Spending

Some local officials are spending freely to post street signs that let people know the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- better known as the stimulus bill -- has funded a highway project in local neighborhoods, an expense that has Republicans blistering over why taxpayer money is being used to promote how taxpayer money is being used.

State governments are estimated to be using millions of dollars to put up the signs that say what a great job they are doing spending money. Some examples:

-- In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spent $10,000 for a single 10-by-11-foot sign displayed at a highway project, advertising that the $15 million in stimulus funds the District received were provided by the stimulus.

-- Illinois spent about $650,000 during the last 14 months for 950 signs to be placed on 850 highway projects, Department of Transportation spokesman Josh Kauffman told

-- Pennsylvania spent $157,477 of the $1 billion in stimulus funds it received on 70 signs for 37 projects, Department of Transportation press officer Alison Wenger told The average cost of each sign was $2,250.

-- Tennessee bought 324 signs for $12,931, ABC News reported.

But some states, including Florida, Vermont, Arizona and Virginia, aren't following neighboring states' signs.

"We decided that we were going to take all the money that we got from our stimulus projects and put it into the road," said Jeff Caldwell, chief of communications for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Last year, the Federal Highway Administration issued guidance to states on the layout and color of signs.

The statement issued shortly after the $787 billion stimulus bill passed noted that "President Obama made the commitment that all projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will bear a recovery emblem to make it easier for Americans to see which projects are funded by the ARRA."

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he was pleased Republicans have noticed the nearly 11,000 road projects under way as a result of the stimulus.

"We have encouraged states to let people know how their tax money is being spent. Some post signs, some don't. I believe that as a matter of spending, those signs account for about 3 cents out of every hundred dollars that is spent on the recovery," he said.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is probing into what was required of states and jurisdictions about sign construction.

And Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., introduced a resolution in the House that he summarized as saying, "We don't need to tell the American people with propaganda signs that we're spending their tax dollars wisely."

Schock said that not only is the signage an insult to people's intelligence to tell them that a road project is under way as they're driving through it, but it's a waste of stimulus funds and isn't doing anything to increase employment.

But the House rejected the proposal.

"Taxpayers' dollars should not be used to advertise government programs and construct signs, but that obviously was rejected by the majority on the floor yesterday," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told Fox News on Wednesday.

"The American people don't want to see tax dollars used to promote the economic agenda of this administration. They want to see them used used toward implementing policies that will put Americans back to work," Pence said.