The K-State Collegian, the college newspaper at our purple university, has a good article today about Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and earmarks that quite fairly discusses the good and the bad of earmarking.
It comes to the correct conclusion that while some earmarks are filthy, miserable things (like the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska...which happened when Jim Ryun was "leading by example," by the way), many earmarks, if not most of them, serve incredibly important purposes and those, my friends, can't be just eliminated.
On the good side, universities like K-State receive several millions of dollars each year from earmarks, including funds for stem-cell and biosecurity research, said Sue Peterson, director of government relations at K-State.Congresswoman Nancy Boyda said again that one of the most significant problems with earmarks is that the dirtiest ones, the ones that give the whole process a bad name, are hidden from the eyes of members of Congress- and from the public.
Peterson said she has not determined the final amount K-State received from earmarks during the last fiscal year, but she estimated the funding was between $14 and $15 million.
The earmarks will fund projects at the Midwest Institute for Comparative Stem Cell Biology, Great Plains Sorgham Improvement and Utilization Center, and the Biosecurity Research Institute, among other projects.
Boyda said many of the earmark projects would falter if they did not receive funding from earmarks. It is possible that several of these projects would not receive funding from other areas like separate government grants and private contributions.
"Without this funding, some of these programs could be interrupted," she said. "They could have to stop - it would be a mess."
Boyda said this allows legislators to withhold reasons for questionable earmarks from their constituents and other members of Congress.Of course, Boyda has lead by example on this particular issue (are you listening, Jim?):
"They don't want to take all the questions and criticisms that come," she said. "And my view is if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Boyda said the easiest solution to a lack of transparency is forcing all members of Congress to post every earmark they introduce, not just the ones that pass.
Boyda said she was called a maverick two years ago when she announced she would post earmark requests online, but fellow Kansas Democratic representative Dennis Moore, as well as other legislators, soon followed suit.The article also notes that earmark have decreased in number and in cost since the Democrats took control of Congress, and we'd just like to add the most significant reform in the history of the earmarking system happened while the Democrats were in control.
"The crazy thing is four members of Congress in Kansas, two in the House and two in the Senate, still haven't," she said.