Earmarks to Be Debated



By: Jeremy Alford 


During budget debates in recent years, average citizens, editorial writers and good government groups have cringed at the notion of public funding via “earmarks” for pet projects and programs such as hot air balloon races and high school alumni groups. Why? Because it’s your money that’s supporting such questionable activities and groups. Earmarks are traditionally included in the state operating budget without explanations as to how the tax dollars will be spent or who will benefit. Many earmarks support nonprofit organizations, some of which receive virtually all of their revenue from state government grants sponsored by individual legislators. “The question isn’t whether or not these organizations do some good in our state, it’s how efficient is the job they are doing,” says state Treasurer John Kennedy. “If the state is going to continue to give money to these nonprofit organizations, at the very least, taxpayers statewide deserve full disclosure about these projects.” State Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, a Jennings Republican, has filed Senate Bill 106 to force lawmakers to reveal every detail about their earmarks. Each funding request would have to include budget information, project goals, objectives and information about possible connections to elected officials. Kennedy is among the bill’s supporters and says he plans to testify for it when the Senate Finance Committee takes up the measure.

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