Legislation introduced this week by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) would prohibit the use of funds from the 2009 stimulus bill to pay for road signs that identify construction projects that are being funded by the stimulus bill.
The bill, H.R. 389, would end stimulus funding for signs that have said "Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" (ARRA) or "Putting America to Work." Republicans have bristled at the use of these signs, which they say promote the costly stimulus bill and the Obama administration.
Originally, the use of signs calling attention to ARRA projects was required, but later signs were merely encouraged by the Obama administration. Guidance from the Office of Management and Budget from last year says signage promotes "openness and transparency," but also that it is "important that costs associated with signage are reasonable and limited." Thus, it says, ARRA-funded projects "should display signage," but "exclusions may apply."
Schock has previously pressed to eliminate the use of signs in construction projects, and last year estimated that about $20 million has been spent so far on signs. The bill would recoup all money spent so far, and prevent further spending on signs.
Schock's office said this week that it is difficult to estimate the exact cost of signs, since various federal departments oversee the distribution of stimulus money to states, and not all states have procedures in place to record the amount spent. Schock's bill would require various federal agencies to provide a more specific number on signage costs so far. Some have estimated that if the stimulus were to run its course, signage costs could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Updated at 5:43 p.m.