Rep. Simpson outlines 'earmark' requests
Transparency in Earmarks
by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson
WASHINGTON, D.C. - This week, I will submit a list of Idaho-based projects to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration in Fiscal Year 2010. I am keenly aware that these project, or earmark, requests are seen by some as an example of wasteful federal spending and I understand fully that too many federal projects are indeed wasteful.
I decided to write and publish this column in an effort to share with the people of Idaho not only the types of projects I put forward, but my reasons for doing so. I believe the most appropriate reform of the earmark system is not to ban them outright, but to expose them to the light of day and allow every American citizen a chance to see them and comment on them. I also want to be clear that the projects I am requesting represent only a portion of those submitted to me this year. Many did not make the cut.
The projects I have submitted are focused largely on growing the Idaho National Laboratory and the jobs it provides for eastern Idaho, expanding course offerings at Idaho’s colleges and universities, improving Idaho’s water and transportation infrastructure, preserving and conserving Idaho’s native species and public lands, and growing jobs and opportunities in Idaho’s high-tech and health-related economies.
To grow the Idaho National Laboratory and expand its mission as our nation’s lead nuclear energy laboratory, I am seeking an increase of $56 million to build new laboratories, increase the capabilities of the Advanced Test Reactor, and further INL’s collaboration with NASA in deep space missions. I am seeking a substantial increase in the development of a nuclear reactor at INL which would produce both electricity and heat for use in chemical processes. And I am seeking an increase in the federal government’s commitment to cleanup contaminated areas of the site.
For our states colleges and universities, I am supporting an array of projects that expand their collaboration with the Department of Defense in the protection of our nation’s vital interests both here and abroad. I am seeking improvements on campus for student safety, funding for programs that match course offerings to the needs of employers, expansion of agriculture research programs that keep our nation’s commodities attractive in a global marketplace, and advancements for new technologies that promote Idaho-based innovation in highly technical fields such as the production of medical isotopes.
To move people and goods across our state with greater efficiency, I am seeking funding for our state’s roads and bridges including highway 75 near Sun Valley, the City of Rocks Back Country Byway, and a public lands highway in Custer County. I will be seeking funding for buses and bus facilities across the state and the widening of I-84 from Broadway to Gowen Road.
Beyond these critical needs, I will be seeking funding for public waters systems in Buhl, Lava, Soda Springs, American Falls, Shelley, and Ammon. I will attempt to finish the extension of Boise’s Geothermal System to Boise State University. And I will seek to spur job growth at Idaho high-tech businesses including Premier Technology, American Semiconductor, and M2E Power Systems.
These projects represent much, but not all, of the funding I will seek for next year. A complete list of my submissions can be found on my website at www.house.gov/simpson/appropriations.shtml.
As I wrote above, I believe the best tonic for wasteful spending is transparency and the input of citizens all across America. With that in mind, I invite all Idahoans to review the projects I have supported and tell me and my staff where you believe we have hit the mark or gone off the tracks.
In the end, I can either seek these projects for Idaho or allow the funding to go to some other state. I would rather see that funding end up in Idaho – but I would prefer it be directed to projects that merit taxpayer investment.