Saturday, November 27, 2010

Utica's Cameo Appearance . . .

. . . in a Cato Institute report: Why New York Shouldn't Mourn Earmarks by Tad DeHaven.
New York would actually be a winner under an earmark ban, because research by my Cato Institute colleague Brandon Arnold shows that when it comes to the distribution of pork, no state fares worse than New York.

In 2009, New York taxpayers contributed just over 8.2% of the overall federal tax burden. It would be reasonable to expect a similar percentage of earmarked dollars to flow back to the state. In reality, New York received only about 2.1% of total earmarked funds. As a result, the Empire State has the dubious distinction of being the nation's biggest "earmark donor" state.

New York is not alone. Unbelievably, 90% of the US population resides in an earmark donor state. In addition to New York, taxpayers in 34 other states and the District of Columbia are essentially picking up the tab for 16 "earmark beneficiary" states.. . .

Just as earmarks have achieved notoriety for wasteful and ineffective spending, community development programs funded through traditional means have had the same problem.

Examples from New York abound. The city of Utica spent CDBG funds on a variety of improper uses, such as $902,799 on a marina and $255,158 on ski chalet renovations. The city of Troy used $1.6 million to lure a hockey team to the city. And Niagara Falls and Lockport used $12 million to build an amusement center, which shut down after just six months of operation. . . .

. . . the goal shouldn't be to get the state of New York an equal share of federal subsidies that go to state and local governments, be it earmarks or grants. Rather, the goal should be for New York and the rest of the states to reassume responsibility for their own affairs.   [emphasis supplied]


Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph is interesting. And who's going to assume the tax burdrn when N.Y. residents "resume responsibilities for their own affairs"? I have no problem with my federal tax dollars being returned here via earmarks. Where do you want it to go? Iraq? The problem here is corrupt & incompetent politicians. Not the idea of returning federal monies to assist local governments, monies which are supposed to be used for the common good.

Dave said...

Hey, here's a great idea! Instead of us all throwing money in the pot while other states take out more than their fair share, let's none of us states throw any money into the pot at all! We'll call it lower Federal taxes! Can you imagine what the FF's would have thought of a federal government collecting so much in taxes that it had enough left over to give back in earmarks? Federalism gone berserk.

Strikeslip said...

If earmarks are programs of local interest, why have any of them at all for anybody? Why should the feds fund anything without there being a national interest at stake?

The problem with earmarks -- and why they must be eliminated -- is that they are used to buy votes from certain representatives on key agenda items by the party in power. An agenda item should be voted upon based on the item´s own merits, not on an earmark. Earmarks distort decision making, leading to things such as votes on 2000 page bills that no one has read.

I do not think that the federal government should subsidize local or state governments whatsoever, with the possible exception of *completely* funding local programs that are implemented by federal mandate.

For example, the Federal Drinking Water Act now requires the MV Water Authority to store treated water in enclosures rather than open reservoirs. That is a completely *unnecessary* requirement since we've never had a problem result from treated water stored in an open reservoir. The legal authority to impose such a requirement on local systems should be questioned, but few nationally have done so. The price of compliance flows into the pockets of MVWA's connected friends, so there is an incentive for the locals to go along with it -- just keep the people on the water board ignorant and they can be controlled. However, that federal requirement is now costing us water users a *fortune* in our water bills. We probably would not have had the formation of the MVWA at all had it not been for *another* federal requirement that all drinking water be filtered in a certain way. Again, it was an unnecessary requirement because we had no problems with our water before the filtration plant. No one challenged this issue... even though (politically powerful) New York City escaped the requirement completely by exercising control over its watershed (ie, upstate farmers had to change their practices). The cost crisis created by Utica building the federally required filtration plant led to the formation of the water authority.

If the feds paid for their requirements completely, I would have no problem with that --- but don't tax me for a *federal* program through my water bill!