Monday, April 26, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Supports $4M Earmark for Local School Funding

This week, John Kline (R-MN) issued a press release concerning the Republican Party imposing a conference-wide, one-year ban on earmarks. Mr. Kline said ““Washington needs to earn back the trust of the American people, and a bipartisan ban on earmarks is a step in the right direction. I encourage my colleagues in the majority party to join House Republicans in showing our constituents we are serious about reducing wasteful pork-barrel spending and restoring order to America’s fractured fiscal house.”
House Resolution 1289 is notably because of the absence Ron Paul (R-TX), Don Young (R-AL) and Joseph Cao (R-LA).

Press releases are worth what there printed on … scrap paper. This PR is eerily similar to the one issued prior to the 2008 elections :
“The American people are tired of out-of-control government spending, taxing, and borrowing. To earn back their trust, we need to immediately cut off the earmarks that have given Washington a bad name. Partial solutions are not enough. An immediate earmark moratorium is the only way to wipe the slate clean and allow us to start getting spending under control.”

If the 2008 Press Release meant anything, then Mr. Kline’s Labor and Education Committee would not have had a lot of “requests” to consider. But alas, that’s not true … worse yet, these are for next year when this year’s appropriations have not yet been completed.

Most interesting was the reaction from Ken Calvert (R-CA), "I'm going to enthusiastically support it. The process needs to be reformed, and we're going to come back as a majority and reform the system."
Interesting, because Mr. Calvert has been recognized as a Most Corrupt Nominee for some of his use of earmarks. But this moratorium is for FY 2011 … so the $325,000 that Mr. Calvert requested for Riverside Unified School District, Riverside, CA for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiative, including curriculum development and purchase of equipment still stands.

Mr. Calvert is not the only one.
There’s the $150,000 by Roy Blount (R-MO) Missouri State University, Springfield, MO for the Missouri Innovation Academy.
It should be mentioned that Mr. Blount is a candidate for the US Senate … so “pork” could result in some votes …. And Mr. Blount is so important that Mr. Kline’s Freedom and Security PAC gave $5,000 to his campaign.
And by the way, Mr. Kline's PAC also made a contribution to Mr. Calvert.

There are many other “requests” that involved Mr. Kline’s Education Committee; such as, $1 million to be split evenly between four school districts "requested" by Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) USD 402, Augusta, KS Public Schools for technology upgrades, USD 446, Independence, KS Public Schools for technology upgrades and teacher training, USD 373, Newton, Kansas Public Schools for technology upgrades, and USD 353, Wellington, KS, Public Schools for technology upgrades and teacher training
Oh, and by the way, Mr. Tiahrt is a candidate for US Senate this November. I guess that is why Mr. Kline is concerned that “spending priorities [be] based on a project’s merit rather than a Member’s seniority, party affiliation …

Considering that Mr. Kline is “serious about reducing wasteful pork-barrel spending and restoring order to America’s fractured fiscal house”, Second District voters may be interested in the project merits for the $255,000 “request” from John Carter (R-TX) for Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, Inc., Killeen, TX for educational programming . The program originated as a Baptist Church program that is designed for children with chronic/terminal illnesses and special needs to discover their natural abilities and interests and obtain the critical life and coping skills needed to reach their full potential. Sounds worthwhile … but is Killeen that much different than Minnesota … after all, the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota serves many needy children. Maybe, Mr. Kline is hoping that the Peaceable Kingdom Retreat will open a branch in Minnesota.

Yes, “earmarks” should be a concern … but what really is an“earmarks” ?

Earmarks” are funds provided by the Congress for projects, programs, or grants where the purported congressional direction (whether in statutory text, report language, or other communication) specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the executive branch to manage its statutory and constitutional responsibilities pertaining to the funds allocation process.

Well, obviously, Mr. Kline being opposed to “earmarks” he would never advocate for one … would he ? After all, Mr. Kline wants funding “ based on a project’s merit” and shouldn’t the primary focus be on the accountability of taxpayer dollars.

If after review in several Department of Education reports, which cite lackluster progress and unresolved issues about the effectiveness of a program, shouldn’t future funding be re-evaluated ?
That’s what President Obama has done in his Budget
proposal : “$9 million for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a private school voucher program begun in 2004. The Budget proposes to continue to provide private school vouchers for only those students currently enrolled in the program. Based on current program participation rates and the amount of available program funding carried forward from prior fiscal years, it is expected that this will be the final request for Federal funding to support the Opportunity Scholarship program.”

That $9 million has been reduced from the $13 million that was previously budgeted … which would seem to be the smart thing to do if it is not working. The not-for-profit Washington Scholarship Fund has announced it will no longer administer the program that serves an estimated 1,300 children already enrolled in the 55 private or parochial schools in the District.

Don’t know about “ Opportunity Scholarship Program” … it’s classic Frank Luntz codespeak for government money to private schools. And who goes to those private schools … well, a Heritage Foundation study found that in 2007 more than 37 percent of Representatives and 45 percent of Senators sent their own children to private school, more than double the national average of 11.5 percent.

Well, if a program is being cut by the Administration, what should Congress do … accept it or author legislation to change it.

Yes, Mr. Kline is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4312 School Choice Incentive Act.
Great, while Minnesota schools suffer and Mr. Kline opposed the stimulus that brought dollars to School Districts in the Second District, Mr. Kline approves funding for Washington DC schools … Yes, Mr. Kline truly serves Washington and his Party’s interests ahead of Minnesota.

NOTE : A Tip of the Hat to MNPact for first discussing Kline’s press release.

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