GOP Sen. Joe Gimse of Willmar and GOP Rep. Mike Beard are urging the members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to oppose any earmarks. In a letter to the six Democrats and four Republicans in the delegation, the two chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees wrote that the process of earmarking has a “detrimental effect” on Minnesota’s transportation system:
“When earmarks are approved by Congress, the amount dedicated to each project is counted against what the state should receive in its share of federal gas tax revenues for highway funding. Unfortunately, some earmarks are set aside for projects that have not been fully vetted and approved by state and local transportation officials. Due to this lack of support and corresponding lack of matching funds from the state, these earmarks end up being “orphaned” and become the equivalent of an uncashed check from the federal government.”
Gimse and Beard then cite a USA Today story saying Minnesota has lost $131.3 million in federal funds as a result of earmarking. They don’t say how much money Minnesota made as a result of earmarking.
Republicans, most notably GOP Rep. John Kline, have vowed not to take any earmarks. But some, including GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann find other ways of getting those funds. Bachmann sent letters to Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood in the past seeking stimulus funds. She also wants to have earmarks redefined to exclude transportation funds.
Here’s the full letter from Gimse and Beard.