Tracking Illinois' stimulus money

June 30, 2010 (CHICAGO)

While much of the government money is still parked, some funds ended up in unusual places.

When President Obama signed the nearly $800 billion stimulus package into law last year, it was intended to save the American economy. However, less than half of the stimulus funds committed by Washington have been spent by government agencies and the states-- including a billion dollars parked in Illinois.

Even as Illinois stimulus projects clog roadways this summer, American Recovery Act records reveal that nearly a billion dollars in funds are parked in the Chicago area-- sitting unused even while metro jobless figures are among the worst in the nation.

As mounds of money remain unused, the I-Team has been looking at where some of the money has been spent in Chicago. According to government stimulus records:

  • $270,000 was given for the study of 'intergalactic gas' by scientists at the University of Chicago. No jobs were created there by the stimulus program.
  • $462,000 is being used to study sharks because, as the program states, "sharks grab attention," at the University of Chicago. No new jobs were reported.
  • $85,000 is being spent to determine whether parents contribute to their children's obesity because of what they feed them. That federal recovery funding is going to Northwestern University. No jobs were created.
  • $500,000 went to a private company for work on 'finger-tapping technology' for use on cell phones as an alternative method of "mobile commuting." This comes even as Illinois has banned texting while driving.
  • $611,000 in stimulus funds was given to the University of Illinois to determine whether stress makes people drink more.
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