Catfish get $500K, but shrimp, $4M

By Sam Dealey
The Hill

APRIL 9, 2003

Despite a laggard economy and talk by lawmakers about the need for fiscal restraint, pork-barrel spending achieved new highs — or lows — in appropriations bills passed this year.

“Congress porked-out at record levels,” says Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) in a report due out today. According to the group, the 13 annual appropriations bills included 9,362 special-interest projects costing $22.5 billion.

Those figures represent a 12-percent increase in the number and amount of projects over fiscal 2002. Since 2001, total pork costs have risen by 22 percent, according to the group.

“When Congress passed the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill on Feb. 13, 2003, the country was staring at a $300 billion budget deficit and preparing for military action overseas,” reads the report. “Instead of being fiscally responsible, members of Congress loaded up the bill with thousands of pork-barrel projects.”

Among the disbursements CAGW finds questionable were $500,000 for catfish health in Stoneville, Miss.; $631,000 for alternative salmon products in Alaska; $200,000 for seafood waste in Fairbanks, Alaska; $4.2 million for shrimp aquaculture research in several states; and $500,000 for “swine lagoon alternatives research” in South Carolina.

Other expenditures the group questions include $210,000 for hoop barns in Iowa, $1.62 million for the Methane Biogases Capture and Reuse Initiative in Toledo, Ohio, and $2.7 million for the Wood Education and Resource Center in West Virginia. Over $6 million was also spent for “wood utilization research” in several states.

CAGW defined pork as any spending allocation requested by only one chamber of Congress, serving only a local or special interest, or “greatly” exceeding previous funding or requests for funding. The organization also identified pork as a spending project that was not specifically authorized, competitively awarded or the subject of a congressional hearing.

Pork spending per capita was $34. The top two pork-laden states are Alaska at $611 per person, which is $393 million total for the state, and Hawaii at $262 per person, $353 for the state.

“The common thread in the top two states is that they are represented by powerful senators and appropriators,” CAGW notes. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee at the time. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) is a senior member of the committee. Among their states’ many projects in the appropriations bills were $750,000 for sea-otter research in Alaska and $1 million for Hawaii’s brown tree snakes. The latter expenditure was categorized as spending for defense.

Educational needs were also met. An “automated nursery project” in Mississippi received $1 million, and $250,000 went to implement the National Preschool Anger Management Project in Iowa. The Robert C. Byrd Clinic at the West Virginia School for Osteopathic Medicine, named for the state’s senior Democratic senator, was funded to the tune of $2.75 million.

Additionally, the TechRanch in Bozeman, Mont., received $450,000. The ranch “assists entrepreneurs in developing sustainable, profitable, technology ventures to compete in a global market,” according to its website. The First Tee Program, which strives to “impact the lives of young people around the world by creating affordable and accessible golf facilities to primarily serve those who have not previously had exposure to the game and its positive values,” received $500,000.

Several cultural centers also received federal largesse. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, took home $1.19 million, and the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds in Dothan, Ala., reaped $202,000. The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum received $400,000; the Denver Art Museum, $900,000. In its 2001-2002 annual report, CAGW notes, the museum listed assets valued at more that $35 million.

State Pork, per capita

1. Alaska $610.99
2. Hawaii 283.43
3. (Wash., D.C.) 261.59
4. New Mexico 167.91
5. West Virginia 165.43
6. Idaho 134.76
7. South Dakota 119.05
8. S. Carolina 102.87
9. Vermont 99.71
10. Montana 96.44
11. North Dakota 84.52
12. Washington 80.02
13. Nevada 78.90
14. Mississippi 74.11
15. Rhode Island 69.45
16. Kentucky 65.29
17. Alabama 62.38
18. Louisiana 61.02
19. Iowa 57.87
20. Maine 48.81
21. N. Hampshire 48.63
22. Missouri 48.20
23. Delaware 41.41
24. Colorado 39.36
25. Oregon 38.03

26. Tennessee 34.52
27. Minnesota 33.99
28. Utah 33.42
29. Wyoming 33.24
30. Arizona 29.69
31. Maryland 28.11
32. Arkansas 27.99
33. Oklahoma 27.66
34. Wisconsin 26.80
35. Indiana 25.22
36. Pennsylvania 24.98
37. Virginia 24.21
38. Connecticut 24.08
39. Kansas 23.90
40. Texas 23.09
41. Ohio 22.23
42. New Jersey 20.57
43. Illinois 20.32
44. Nebraska 19.56
45. Florida 19.35
46. New York 17.31
47. California 16.77
48. Massachusetts 16.65
49. Georgia 16.01
50. Michigan 13.88
51. North Carolina 9.81

AVERAGE: $34.33


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