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Lean pork: Congressional bill light on Minnesota earmarks

Bill Clements//December 11, 2009

Lean pork: Congressional bill light on Minnesota earmarks

Bill Clements//December 11, 2009

Mathematically speaking, it looks like Minnesota won’t be getting its fair share of pork.

Not that $55 million is chump change, but in terms of federal appropriations for 2010, it adds up to not much more than 1 percent of the nearly half-trillion in federal spending the House approved Thursday.

If, as expected, the Senate approves the $446.8 billion spending package for 2010 over the weekend, the bill giving Minnesota $55.25 million for 59 projects will go to President Barack Obama for his expected signature before the Dec. 18 deadline to pass a federal budget for fiscal year 2010, which ends next Sept. 30.

(Congressional leaders decided to do the Department of Defense appropriations bill separately, and that should go through next week.)

But Minnesota might have gotten considerably less in earmarked funds if not for Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-8th) of Duluth: The chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee by himself takes credit for securing $29.2 million for 22 projects, including the big winner in the Northstar State – the Duluth International Airport, which will get $15 million for a jet-fuel storage complex.

Other projects getting significant money include the Northstar commuter rail line, which gets nearly $4 million, and the Central Corridor light rail transit project, which snagged $2 million.

Of course, the pork process is controversial: Two of Minnesota’s three GOP members of the House declined to participate in, saying it’s too corrupt.

Guess who’s one of them? Right – Rep. Michele Bachmann of the 6th.

Bachmann and Rep. John Kline of the 2nd are apparently morally offended by pork or earmarks or appropriations.

Wonder what voters in the St. Cloud and Lakeville areas, respectively, feel about not getting their fair bite.

The third GOPer, Rep. Erik Paulsen (3rd) of Eden Prairie, had no such moral qualms – he proudly takes credit for securing $1.6 million for three road projects.

Of course, compared with Oberstar’s haul, that’s chicken feed.

In any case, here’s a breakdown of the earmarks Minnesota got, by district and representative:

Rep. Tim Walz (D-1st) of Mankato (7 projects, just less than $5 million):

  • $1 million: Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority, for a rehabilitation project.
  • $1 million: Winona State University, for the National Child Protection Training Center.
  • $1 million: The Hormel Institute, for an expansion in Austin.
  • $584,400: Highway 14-Blue Earth County Roads 12 to 17 project, for construction of an interchange on Highway 14 extending Blue Earth County Roads 12 to 17.
  • $300,000: 55th Street Expansion project, in Rochester.
  • $250,000: Heart of New Ulm, for a research and demonstration project in New Ulm.
  • $100,000: Bolder Options, for an expansion project in Rochester.

Rep. John Kline (R-2nd) of Lakeville:

“Rep. Kline hasn’t requested any earmarks in three years,” said Troy Young, Kline’s director of communications. “In January 2007, he decided not to participate in earmarks. He does not support the corrupt and corrupting process of earmarks.”

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-3rd) of Eden Prairie (3 projects, $1.6 million):

  • $800,000: I94/Brockton Lane Interchange project, for preliminary design, environmental reviews, right-of-way acquisition and final design.
  • $400,000: Highway 169/I494 Interchange project, for all of the U.S. Highway 169 to I-494 (system-to-system) moves, as well as providing local access to the principal arterials of U.S. Highway 169 and I-494.
  • $400,000: Highway 610 project, for design and construction of Trunk Highway 610 in Maple Grove from County State Aid Highway 81 to the final terminus of Interstate 94.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-4th) of St. Paul (8 projects, $4.4 million):

  • $1 million: City of Roseville, for the Twin Lakes infrastructure project.
  • $675,000: HealthEast Care System, St. John’s Hospital Emergency Department expansion.
  • $675,000: Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, for energy-efficient expansion of operating rooms.
  • $600,000: College of St. Catherine, for technology to improve student learning and graduate more nurses.
  • $560,000: Ramsey County Community Corrections, Juvenile Detention alternatives.
  • $450,000: Lutheran Social Service, for facilities rehabilitation for homeless and runaway youth.
  • $250,000: Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, Interstate 94 Transit Corridor (St. Paul to Eau Claire) – Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Assessment: $250,000
  • $200,000: Neighborhood Development Center, University Avenue Business Preparation Collaborative.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-5th) of Minneapolis (11 projects, $5.25 million):

  • $1.9 million: STARBASE Minnesota Educational Building, for renovation of facilities for the educational/training program in math and science for underprivileged middle-school children. The facilities are provided by the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
  • $500,000: Grand Rounds Missing Link National Scenic Byway Project, for design and construction of project connecting St. Anthony Parkway to East River Parkway.
  • $500,000: Minneapolis Transit Hub, for the new transit hub in downtown Minneapolis that will serve as a center for current and future commuter and light rail lines.
  • $400,000: Minneapolis Police Department, for digital cameras and computers for squad cars.
  • $400,000: Hennepin County Medical Center, to construct a new hyperbaric chamber.
  • $400,000: Summit Academy Opportunities Industrialization Center, for its Green Jobs Initiative in the Harrison neighborhood of Minneapolis.
  • $300,000: Bolder Options program in Minneapolis, for programs to reduce truancy and juvenile delinquency of at-risk youth.
  • $250,000: Jewish Family and Children’s Service, for the Family Caregiver Access Network Demonstration Project to place more seniors in community-based care settings.
  • $250,000: Bottineau Transit Project, for a potential light rail line that will connect downtown and North Minneapolis with northwestern suburbs.
  • $200,000: Midtown Global Market, for providing technical assistance for culturally diverse start-up businesses.
  • $150,000: Northside Economic Opportunity Network, for providing technical assistance to help start-up small businesses in North Minneapolis.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-6th) of St. Cloud:

“Rep. Bachmann did not submit any request for funding in this bill,” said Dave Dziok, Bachmann’s press secretary. “She feels – and she has for years – that the earmark process is broken and in need of reform. It’s not transparent or open enough, and too often jumps politics above merit.”

Rep. Colin Peterson (D-7th) of Detroit Lakes (8 projects, $9.8 million):

  • $5 million: Army Corp of Engineers, St. Paul District, for flood-risk management project in Breckenridge.
  • $1,938,000: Army Corp of Engineers, St. Paul District, for flood-risk management project in for Roseau.
  • $1 million: Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority, for rail rehabilitation project in Redwood Falls.
  • $500,000: City of Moorhead, for the SE Main Ave project.
  • $500,000: The University of Minnesota Crookston, for the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies.
  • $346,000: College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, for the National Bovine Tuberculosis Disease, Control and Eradication project.
  • $303,000: University of Minnesota, Plant Science Unit, for wild rice breeding and germplasm improvement in St. Paul campus.
  • $243,000: Army Corp of Engineers, St. Paul District, for flood-risk management project in the Wild Rice River.

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-8th) of Duluth (22 projects, $29.2 million):

  • $15 million: Duluth International Airport, for a jet-fuel storage complex.
  • $3 million: Northstar Phase II, for extending the line from Big Lake to St. Cloud.
  • $2 million: Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project.
  • $1.7 million: Camp Ripley, for an urban assault course.
  • $1.2 million: City of Isanti, for a pedestrian bridge over TH 65.
  • $730,500: City of Park Rapids, for street and utility reconstruction on Main Avenue.
  • $711,661: Northstar Phase I, for completion of the Minneapolis to Big Lake portion.
  • $600,000: Twin Cities-to-Twin Ports Trail Linkage.
  • $550,000: College of St. Scholastica, for the Rural Health Technology project.
  • $500,000: Range Regional Health Services, for the Pulmonary Center of Excellence.
  • $500,000: Northeast Law Enforcement Administrators Council, for the Meth Reduction Project.
  • $500,000: Itasca County, for a 911 radio system.
  • $500,000: St. Louis County Sheriff, for the Regional Interoperability Data System Project.
  • $500,000: Northern Lights Express project.
  • $450,000: Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute.
  • $400,000: Cambridge-Isanti, for a bike-walking trail.
  • $240,000: Minnesota State Patrol, for in-squad digital cameras.
  • $200,000: Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, for the Greenstone Group.
  • $200,000: Lake Superior College, for the aviation certification and degree program.
  • $100,000: 9th Judicial District Koochiching County, for DUI/Substance Abuse Court.
  • $97,400: Northstar Phase II, to purchase commuter buses.
  • $35,000: City of Gilbert, for an integrated radio system.

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