$30-billion dollars in wasteful government spending. Oklahoma's US Senator Tom Coburn uncovers 100 projects he says the government spent way too much money on just this year.
In Sen. Coburn's Wastebook 2013, he calls out two USDA grants awarded to Oklahoma totaling more than $20-million. However, some Oklahomans say the grants aren't waste at all.
Sen. Coburn says $200,000 given to a winery in McAlester and $19.5-million was allocated to a study OSU is a part of, involving climate affects on cattle size. But both OSU and the winery say Coburn's information is either wrong or misleading.
"It's bad enough if you waste that kind of money, but it's even worse if you're not going to hold people accountable for the errors of their ways," Sen. Coburn said to government officials today.
While some government spending is no doubt wasteful, not everything is that black and white. Take the $19.5-million grant from the USDA to study cattle size. Coburn says researchers from Kansas State University are partnering with scientists from OSU and OU to study how global warming is impacting cow weight loss. OSU says Sen. Coburn's wording is misleading. The school says the study is more about learning how to better manage herds in changing environmental conditions.
OSU spokesperson, Gary Shutt, released a statement saying "The drought that started in late 2010 has cost Oklahoma producers billions of dollars, and hit consumers with higher prices. This research can lead to solutions that might lesson that impact in the future."
"Some grown up in the room has to question whether or not we're spending money wisely or effectively," said Sen. Coburn.
Cow research isn't the only thing Sen. Coburn is attacking in his own state. He called a $200,000 USDA grant to the Whispering Meadow Vineyards and Winery in McAlester a waste as well. He says the money was used to buy 11 new tanks and a new automated bottling machine that will double the number of cases of wine produced every year.
"I don't think that's wasteful at all," said wine enthusiast Carman Hulsey. "I think we waste tax dollars on a lot of other things that don't make any sense."
I spoke with Whispering Meadow officials by phone. They say the USDA grant was actually $100,000 and it was a match grant. The winery had to spend the same amount of its own money.
"Oklahoma is getting bigger and better and anything that we can do to help make it a great place, I think that's a great deal," said Hulsey.
Whispering Meadow can't be held responsible for money the USDA made available through grant money, but Sen. Coburn says with more than 637,000 Oklahomans seeing a decrease in food assistance provided by the USDA, that grant shouldn't have been made available at all.
As for the cattle study, OSU says it's important research that will help Oklahoma farmers.