Friday, March 13, 2009

Over $36 million in federal earmarks for local priorities

Tuesday, Congress passed the Omnibus Appropriations bill for the federal government. This $410 billion budget funds the functions of the federal government for FY 2009. This bill was not completed last year like it should have been because of disagreements with the prior administration.

This bill does a great deal of good that you have probably not heard about because so much time has been devoted to earmarks. It is sad; far more time has been spent talking about the less than one percent of the budget that is earmark spending than the 99 percent in the rest of the bill. The portion of the bill not covered on CNN includes investments in:

Energy Security: Increases funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts, to increase the production of clean, efficient, American energy key to our long term economic security.

Scientific Research: Makes strong investments into cutting edge science so that our nation will maintain its preeminence in the global economy.

Healthcare Access and Affordability: Improves access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Education to Promote Opportunity: Promotes our future economic strength by investing in K-12 education and helping families send their kids to college.

Workers: Helps American workers in the tough economy train for and find good jobs in safe workplaces.

Safe and Healthy America: Protects Americans by investing in programs to ensure clean air and water, and the safety of our food, medicine and consumer products.

A Critical Look: The bill cuts and eliminates programs that haven’t performed the way they should, and includes strict accountability measures to ensure American tax dollars are spent wisely. It invests in oversight efforts carried out by the Inspectors General and the Government Accountability Office.

Regulation for an Economy in Chaos: Strengthens regulatory agencies that had been neglected, to beef up their efforts during the economic crisis.

But, since so much time was spent on the one percent that earmarks represent, before I tell you about the projects I was able to fund, I want to say a few more words in their defense. The same thing Newt Gingrich famously did in the Republican Revolution of 1994 is being done now when it comes to earmarks. It is expedient for some to pit the people against their own government, to wear the cloak of an outsider while telling the mayors of our cities and volunteers of our not-for-profits that Washington knows best. Please forgive me for being skeptical we will get our fair share if we leave this to people who couldn’t find Sugar Creek on a map.

Earmarks are simply a part of a Congressional process to allocate funding for particular purposes. Eliminating the allocation does not decrease the appropriation; it simply leaves the allocation decision to a federal department or agency rather than to Congress. In other words, taking away earmarks takes your tax dollars and puts the choice to spend them in the hands of someone you did not elect to represent you.

I know it is unpopular to publicly say earmarks are needed. However, if not for earmarks, where would Kansas City, struggling with an $85 million shortfall, find the money to repair its levees to protect lives and property? At a time when charitable giving is down, I was able to secure federal dollars for battered women’s shelters and homeless assistance. If not in this bill, where will that money come from? If I can’t find money for the historic building that is crumbling on top of the players at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, where will it come from?

Megan Cloherty at Fox 4 did a very nice piece on some of this years recipients and I encourage you to take a look if you missed it. >>

So, here is the complete list of projects in our community I was able to secure funding for. I think they are worthy causes and good uses of federal tax dollars. I stand behind each of them.

$380,000 for reStart in Kansas City. The funds will provide for facility improvements. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senator Bond and Congressmen Graves.

$5.106 Million for the Missouri River from Rulo to Mouth. Funds will provide repairs to the Missouri River dikes and revetments. Nearly 300 structures are deficient and need repair to ensure reliable navigation within the river and to provide protection of the high bank of the river. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senators Bond, Harkin, Grassley, Hagel and Congressmen Cleaver and Hulshof.

$1.627 Million for Blue River Channel Modification. The funds will continue construction of channel modification and grade control structures on the Blue River. Funds will also construct the final mile of channel modification and initiate construction of grade control structures. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senator Bond.

$84,000 for the Missouri River Bed Degradation. Funds will be used to investigate Missouri River bed degradation from above Kansas City through Jefferson City and recommend economic and environmentally friendly solutions. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senators Bond, Brownback, Roberts and Congressmen Graves and others.

$100,000 for Line Creek Watershed. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Congressman Graves.

$9.57 Million for Turkey Creek in Kansas City Kansas and Missouri. Funds will provide for completion of the Turkey Creek Tunnel, two railroad substructures critical to channel improvement, complete the adjacent levee, and continue design of the channel modifications. Periodic flooding within the lower two miles of Turkey Creek Basin impacts a significant industrial and commercial corridor along SW Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senators Bond and Roberts and Congressman Moore.

$2.871 Million for the Blue River Basin Dodson Industrial District. The funds will continue construction of flood damage reduction features. Construction is of an earthen levee to connect floodwalls to achieve flood damage benefits. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senator Bond.

$1.196 Million for the Feasibility Study of a Phase II Levee in Kansas City. The funds will continue a feasibility study. Levees currently protect more than $16 billion of commercial and residential infrastructure in Kansas City. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senators Bond and Roberts and Congressmen Graves and Moore.

$638,000 for Swope Park Industrial Area. The funds will begin construction for flood damage reduction features. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senator Bond.

$262,000 for the Brush Creek Basin. Funds will provide a study to examine structural and nonstructural measures to reduce recurring flood damages in the Brush Creek Basin, considering environmental ecosystem restoration, water quality improvement, bi-state watershed cooperation, and compatible recreation development. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds in conjunction with Senators Bond, Brownback and Congressman Moore.

$381,000 for the Full Employment Council for “green collar” job training.

$95,000 for the Black Health Care Coalition to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among inner city residents of Kansas City, Missouri. This Community Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program will link community outreach workers promoting awareness of modifiable CVD risk factors and screening to appropriate evaluation and treatment. The program’s success will be evaluated for not only referral success but follow up attention and remediation of initial risk factors.

$143,000 for the Historic Jazz Foundation/Mutual Musicians Foundation Musical History Project. The Foundation has been working to properly display and archive their still photos and has been collecting live performances on film for the benefit of future generations of jazz enthusiasts. Work needs to be done on both the facility and collection.

$190,000 for Newhouse, a domestic violence shelter for women and children in Kansas City to renovate and upgrade the 86-bed facility to make the building more inhabitable, to lengthen the life of the building, and to comply with health and safety standards; and implement an energy efficient plan that will reduce the cost of utilities for years in the future.

$200,000 for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation/LISC Neighborhood Safety Program. The requested funding will assist with community organizing and crime and safety initiatives in 4 targeted KCMO neighborhoods, working with community policing and residents to reduce elements of crime and to assist in ensuring safe neighborhoods for residents. This resident-led initiative will provide tools and training to neighborhood leaders, including Neighborhood Watch programs, and apply technology such as cameras and neighborhood wi-fi capability to identify high crime areas and criminal traffic patterns, and other innovative programs/tools which are identified as needs within 4 neighborhoods through their Quality of Life Planning.

951,500 for the National Nuclear Security Administration Kansas City Plant, operated by Honeywell for their Multi-Disciplined Integrated Collaborative Environment (MDICE) Project. Continues work begun In FY08 to develop a collaborative environment to enable robust management and visualization of electrical and mechanical data types at the systems level. The project reduces cost and waste.

$300,000 for YMCA of Greater KC, Youth Summer Prevention Programs. The Hot Summer Nights program is designed to provide a safe alternative to life on the streets for teenagers and young adults in five communities in Kansas City, Missouri. Its purpose will be to equip youth with self-confidence and skills which will help them meet life's challenges. The program will focus on building self-confidence and self-image while serving the Linwood, Southtown, Independence, Raytown, and Gladstone areas of Kansas City.

$475,000 for the City of Kansas City for improvements at Brush Creek and Troost.

$285,000 for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Bus Replacement Program.

$125,000 for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to complete the Troost Bus Rapid Transit project.

$11.5 Million for the National Rural Water Association which provides technical assistance, source water protection and ground water protection efforts small communities. The need for rural water on-site technical assistance continues to increase with the expansion of federal drinking water regulations and more stringent waste water permits. The main source of assistance for compliance with these mandates has been and will continue to be the efforts of state rural water associations including Missouri’s. Congressman Cleaver secured these funds along with Senators Bond, Barrasso, Biden, Bingaman, Brown, Brownback, Bunning, Cantwell, Chambliss, Clinton, Coleman, Collins, Conrad, Cornyn, Craig, Dodd, Dole, Dorgan, Durbin, Ensign, Enzi, Grassley, Hagel, Harkin, Hatch, Inhofe, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Levin, Lincoln, Lugar, Murkowski, Murray, Menendez, Nelson, Pryor, Reed, Roberts, Salazar, Sanders, Schumer, Shelby, Smith, Gordon, Snowe, Specter, Stabenow, Sununu, Tester, Thune, Voinovich, Webb, Wicker, Wyden and Representatives Aderholt, Arcuri, Etheridge, LoBiondo, McHugh, Murphy.

TOTAL: $36,379,500