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This Is What You Like To See: AZ Last in Pork-Barrel Cash

Arizona can be a weird place, politically.  Sometimes it can be among the most libertarian, part of the Goldwater legacy, and sometimes it can be absurdly statist, for example in the huge popular support our individual-rights-abusing Sheriff Arpaio enjoys.  But this is certainly good to see:

Arizona has some powerful lawmakers in Washington, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

But when it comes to pork-barrel spending, otherwise known as earmarks, the state isn't very powerful. In fact, it ranks last.

That's mostly because three of the state's 10 lawmakers in Washington, McCain and House Republicans Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, refuse to ask for any federal money for local projects. Another Arizona Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl, strictly limits his earmark requests. They all say the earmark process wastes taxpayer money and desperately needs reform. But other Arizona lawmakers counter that their colleagues' stance hurts the state.

rizona, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, will receive $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison, Alaska, with roughly a 10th of Arizona's population, is set to receive $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks.

Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona in actual dollars, $346 million to $119 million. That means Arizona gets less money for water projects, bridge repairs, road construction and rural clinics.

Good for us.  While I have my problems with McCain, Shadegg and Flake are two of my favorite people in Congress. 

The article, since it comes from the Republic, of course fails to really explain the issues well.  It tries to get the reader confused into thinking that zero earmarks means zero government spending in the state:

"When you have reformers and purists, you end up not getting a reasonable share of money coming out, which hurts the state," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "When you're holier than thou, you don't get much of the money."

This is, of course, silly.  Having no earmarks merely means that the huge amounts of money the Feds spend are doled out by existing statute and by the bureaucracy, rather than the whim of individual Congress persons trying to pay back favors to large donors.

update:  see the bad half of AZ here.

Posted on March 22, 2008 at 08:34 AM | Permalink

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