The Office of Management and Budget today released an analysis showing Washington lawmakers obtained about 2,000 fewer "earmarks" in the last year. The earmark process is a way for congresspeople to stuff pet projects into often-unrelated bills. Several Republican lawmakers in Minnesota (and elsewhere) have vowed not to use earmarks anymore.
Still, 9,192 earmarks, costing taxpayers more than $11 billion, made it it into legislation.
Some of the locals and their projects follow (Source: OMB spreadsheet):
James Oberstar $236,055,000
Predator control programs to protect livestock, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program, corrosion training simulation program, electric ATVs for the National Guard, in-squad digital cameras for the State Patrol, Northern Lights Express, pedestrian bridge for City of Isanti, Tucson Public Broadcasting solar arrays.
Amy Klobuchar $179,689,000
An instructional program on the Constitution, Northstar and Central Corridor rail projects, 9-1-1 radio system in rural Minnesota, National Guard counter-drug program, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon soldier reintegration program, Midwest Poultry Consortium.
Keith Ellison $54,395,000
Projects included water quality analysis of Minnehaha Creek, equipment for the Hormel research facility, Coe mansion restoration, and transit station in Minneapolis.
Collin Peterson $31,536,000
Tire to track transformer system for light military vehicles, 21st St. underpass project in Moorhead, Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority. (See details)
Betty McCollum $28,214,000
Central Corridor study, Czech and Slovak hall restoration, Ramsey County juvenile detention alternative program, College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) for health professions training.
Erik Paulsen - $25,037,000
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, facilities and equipment for Children's Hospital, Brockton Lane interchange on I-94.
Tim Walz $25,100,000
Soybean genomics, Hormel institute equipment, Allina heart disease prevention program,
Al Franken $5,800,000
Facilities and equipment for Children's Hospital, equipment for the Hormel institute research facility, and College of Saint Scholastica for a rural health technology project.
Members of Congress are supposed to list details of their earmark requests on their Web sites, but few make it very easy to find them.
So depending on who you believe for a cost estimate, we spend on earmarks in one year about what we spend on the war in Iraq in 4-6 weeks.
How do we compare to other states? How do the officials who pledged not to earmark compare to those who didn't?
If percentages are clearer, here they are
Oberstar - 40%
Klobuchar - 31%
Ellison - 9%
Peterson - 5%
McCollum - 5%
Paulson - 4%
Walz - 4%
Where's Bachmann? Oh ya, she would actually have to do something to have an earmark!