Followup Articles on Pork ‘N Earmarks
Two more articles about what makes an earmark, what defines pork, and when are they justified, are in the Missouri media. Dave Catanese has an interview over at KY3 with Rep. Roy Blunt on the subject (link via Combest), and the Columbia Daily Tribune had a story a few days ago about the Jeff City legislative process used to spend the stimulus funds. I particularly recommend the interviews with two former Missouri legislators at the end of the KY3 story.
It is pretty clear that the stimulus money turned Jeff City’s budget process into something a little more like Washington’s. That was probably unavoidable. When you tell legislators to spend a lot of money quickly, it is not going to be pretty. I don’t mean this as a criticism of the people in Jeff City, but I certainly look forward to the return of the old ways next year, when the General Assembly doesn’t have hundreds of millions to throw around. We had considered in the past doing a report on pork spending by the General Assembly, but we never did, because, frankly, there is not a lot of pork or earmarking in Jeff City. The stimulus money changed that, but hopefully only for one year. Former Sen. Wayne Goode put it well:
“The way it works in Missouri, is that you always need a majority vote somewhere — either in committee or on the floor. It doesn’t really work like it does in Congress. The process is tighter, more structured on the state level.”
I am excited to see these discussions taking place in the public, media, and campaign spheres. I applaud everyone participating in the conversation about how our governments decide to spend what they spend. The budget process in Missouri needs to remain much stricter than it is in D.C., and more of our elected officials in both parties need to swear off both earmarks (which I am defining as spending items put into place after the committee process has ended) and pork (which I am defining as using general tax dollars to benefit very limited interests).