Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Earmark includes prisons museum

June 14, 2007

The Kansas Regional Prisons Museum will see $1.18 million in federal funding, if a list of appropriation requests from U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda wins approval in Congress and is signed into law by President Bush.

Boyda, D-Kan., on Wednesday released a list of 64 projects within Kansas' 2nd Congressional District that she has submitted for federal funding. The Regional Prisons Museum, to be built in Lansing, is on the list.

"I think it's outstanding news," Mayor Kenneth Bernard said upon learning Boyda included Lansing's request. "It would give us a great start to get the rest of the money and build the museum."

Bernard has been lobbying Boyda for money for the estimated $3 million museum since she took office in January. Bernard also had lobbied Boyda's predecessor, Jim Ryun. The mayor said the federal funds could be used for most anything that goes inside the museum.

"It can't be used for construction, though," he said.

Inclusion on the list does not guarantee a project's funding. It merely is one step in the maze of federal appropriations.

But "it's nice to be on the list," Bernard said.

Boyda announced her list in letter Wednesday morning.

"In the coming weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin to debate the yearly appropriations bills to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2008. As part of that process, Members of Congress often submit appropriations requests, or earmarks, to set aside funds for particular projects. These earmarks do not add funds to the federal budget; instead they set aside funds for particular projects among the dollars allocated to federal agencies," Boyda wrote.

Though congressional earmarks have come under increasing scrutiny and criticism, Boyda defended the practice and noted that representatives now must submit they have no personal financial interest in their earmark requests.

"This process makes sense," Boyda wrote. "Instead of someone sitting on the 4th floor in an office building in DC deciding where federal funds go, Members of Congress set aside a portion of funds for projects especially important to their districts. The result is - or can be - a more responsive, efficient federal government.

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