OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Monday, June 19, 2006 :::

Pork and the Idle Richmond Press Corps

Word came down Saturday that Virginia's budget tussle was over (for everything except transportation, that is). There was much chest-beating from the worthies...they agreed to spend a great deal of money on projects, and managed to kill or at least wound a few taxes along the way.

That's just grand.

But tucked into the budget compromise are those bits and pieces of pork for various and sundry nonprofit organizations that I noted way back in January (the list has no doubt changed since that post) and the Jaded JD detailed last week that may not be allowable under the constitution.

But to my knowledge, aside from this Garren Shipley piece, the Richmond press corps is either oblivious to the pork in the budget, and its questionable constitutionality, or turned a blind eye to it.

This is shameful. Granted, we're not talking about huge sums of money in relation to the rest of the budget. But there is a story here, and even a cautionary tale, of sorts, from North Carolina:

Pork barrel spending on projects in favored members' districts has largely disappeared from both budgets as well. Two years ago, lawmakers hid roughly $15 million in pork barrel initiatives in reserve funds that were placed within three state agencies but controlled by legislative leaders.

The funds became public after Black used $45,000 to create a state job for former Rep. Michael Decker.

Once Senate leaders announced their budget would have little pork, the House followed suit.

"Everybody just agreed that if nobody got it, they'd be fine," said Rep. Jim Crawford, an Oxford Democrat and a chief budget writer.

Virginia legislators don't hide their pork in reserve funds (that I am aware of). But they do earmark substantial funds for organizations that do not seem to meet the strict definition of acceptable appropriations. Where are the column inches on the topic? Where are the probing editorials?

Mike your office.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 6/19/2006 1 comments


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