JEFFERSON CITY — One person suggests using Missouri's share of the federal money as kindling. Another says spending the money would be "immoral in the extreme." Yet another advises: "Tell Washington to stuff the Porkulus money where the sun don't shine."
Gov. Jay Nixon is getting a fair share of ornery responses from people clicking on the Web site he announced Monday to solicit suggestions on how to use Missouri's share of the federal economic stimulus funds.
According to an Associated Press analysis of the first 1,064 responses, more than 1 in 9 said the money should be returned to taxpayers or that Missouri should refuse it altogether.
Besides an idea, each response submitted to the governor's office included a name and the city where the person lives. More detailed responses include proposed time lines and job creation estimates. The AP is identifying people by the names they used when submitting proposals.
"The federal funding that Missouri is about to receive is basically borrowed money from us, the taxpayers," writes Sam Major of Ozark. "Therefore, it only stands to reason that it should benefit the taxpayer in the most direct way possible."
The first three days' worth of responses also include hundreds of spending suggestions more in line with the intent of the money, for such things as roads, mass transit, schools and alternative energy projects.
Most people seeking tax relief suggest a direct rebate to all Missouri taxpayers. The submissions envision checks range from $1,000 to $50,000 to — in the case of one idea that was later retracted — $1 million for each person in the state.
But a tax rebate might not even be possible.
Nixon spokesman Scott Holste points out that "much of the money has been or will be specifically targeted" to areas such as schools or roads. He said the federal government is still issuing rules for how the money must be spent.
Nixon "certainly wants to have this money used for what it's intended, which is to get the economy turned around," Holste said.
Tax relief already makes up about one-third of the $787 billion federal package. Lower income workers are to receive a $400 tax credit, and couples will receive $800. Other provisions reward first-time home buyers and protect some taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax. There are also several business tax breaks.
As for the spending portions of the federal law, Cindy Lacy of Marionville has one suggestion: "Burn it!! Because it's not real money and it's going to do NOTHING to help our economy!!"
Andrew Carroll of Kansas City was a little more philosophical.
"This 'stimulus' money is not mine, nor yours, to spend," he writes. "It is immoral in the extreme to spend other people's money. Your invitation to the public to participate in the fraud is also wicked in the extreme."
Fenton resident David Linton thinks the stimulus is simply excessive: "Stop spending my children's money. Reject the bailout and suggest the feds give the money back to the taxpayers."
A few of the ideas are a little more creative.
Two submissions call for the government to distribute debit cards loaded with stimulus money. Under one plan, the cards could not be used for cash advances, to ensure that the money is actually spent. The other — submitted by a small-business owner — would require the debit cards to be valid only at locally owned stores.
Then there's the Lee's Summit man inquiring whether his new electric lawnmower is eligible for a tax credit. After all, he says, the lawnmower reduces carbon output, gasoline use and noise pollution.
One idea from Luke Gilbert in Lee's Summit is admittedly biased: Give the money to teenagers. He argues teens have necessities provided by their parents and would use the money for luxury items, which are being trimmed during the recession.
Pointing to a study showing teens spent $175 billion in 2003, Gilbert argues that level of spending "could do a world of help."