Pork -- the new white meat | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pork -- the new white meat

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2007 at 5:32 PM

Having just received a list of pork projects by senator, I agree with his assessment that it's vastly different than two years ago. Each senator gets about $571,000 to pass around, for a total of $20 million, $6 million less than in 2005, when there was more to spend, despite the fact that there's more to spend this year (brain fart on original post). I don't have a way to link the list, but it would appear that the vast majority of individual grants are going to colleges or state agencies, which, on the surface at least, would clearly meet constitutional standards. I have some interest on whether there are unofficial, but very still understoo, deals on how state agencies are to handle the $20,000 and $10,000 allocations from individual senators. If that money is, essentially, a direct appropriation to a strictly local project, I still think it's subject to challenge. But I'm not saying that's the case and it will be the devil to track all of them.

Despite all the earlier grumbling, it would appear the high drama predicted on the money split will be avoided. The House also got $20 million and the leadership plan to spread it around on statewide projects doesn't seem to have caused high indignity among those left out of the dividing. The big bucks, nearly half a billion, went to school construction.

Of course, Gov. Mike Beebe is fading a lot of the heat in getting $187 million of the $919 milolion surplus. He's taking responsibility for a new $35 million office building for legislators. And he's going to shoulder some appropriations for local projects -- such as the marshals museum in Fort Smith. (That last is an attraction that should pull people from all over; I'm not questioning the legality of museum support.) Beebe will also get his new airplane.

Don't lose in the shuffle a bill coming due from the Huckabee era -- $44 million to repay the federal government for  improperly spent Medicaid money.

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