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Archive for Sunday, June 17, 2007

Representatives release federal budget requests

June 17, 2007

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— Breaking with tradition, Lawrence's U.S. House representatives have released their federal appropriations requests.

Both Nancy Boyda, whose district includes west Lawrence, and Dennis Moore, whose district includes east Lawrence, say they are releasing the information to give the public a clearer view of the congressional budget process.

"It is important to me that this process be as transparent as possible," said Boyda, a freshman Democrat.

Usually, lawmakers don't reveal their upfront requests but later will frequently tout what actually makes it in the final budget approved by Congress.

Moore's office said release of the early appropriations requests was part of a move by some in Congress to open up the budget process to public scrutiny.

In years past, so-called "earmarks" in the budget have led to some abuses where congressmen have personally benefited by the appropriations or have been able to fund wasteful projects.

When Democrats took control of Congress, they passed rules requiring members to submit statements that declare they have no financial interest in the earmark requests.

Rebecca Black, a spokeswoman for Moore, a Democrat, said Moore also has filed legislation that would require posting requested earmarks on a Web site along with the name of the congressman making the request.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., declined to reveal his appropriations requests.

A spokeswoman in his office said sometimes the requests don't reveal the entire picture because, in some instances, House members are expected to help earmark in certain areas, while senators are expected to help in others.

"Everyone's hands are in the pot trying to work for Kansas," the spokeswoman said.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., did not return a telephone call from the Journal-World on the matter.

By revealing the list, representatives also run the risk of letting the public know where they failed to secure funding for projects.

Boyda and Moore's requests include a wide range of projects from military to social services to infrastructure.

Boyda's appropriations list totals approximately $200 million, while Moore's is approximately $260 million.

Lawrence projects requested by Boyda include $5 million for pharmaceutical research at Kansas University; $2 million to KU to help Fort Leavenworth officers pursue graduate degrees; $1.2 million for dam road improvements at Clinton Lake; $850,000 for Bloomington Park Road improvements at Clinton Lake; and $800,000 for renovation of K-10 and Bob Billings Parkway intersection.

Moore's list for Lawrence projects includes $5 million for neuroscience research at KU; $2.3 million to the Lawrence Transit System for bus replacement; $1 million for research and education at KU; $1 million for intersection improvements at Franklin Road and K-10; $377,000 for upgrades of services at the Lawrence Public Library; $200,000 for the Jobs in the Arts Make Sense program at VanGo Mobile Arts; and $150,000 for an independence program at Ballard Community Services.

Boyda said tight budget rules require that any new funding be offset by savings elsewhere. "Therefore, it is likely that only a few of these projects will ultimately receive earmarked funding," she said.

Both the House and Senate are expected to have proposed budgets completed in August and then the chambers will hammer out differences between the two plans.

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