Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Peels House's Local Project Fund; $3.5 Million Is Removed from the Budget Proposal; Democrats Call the Funding Pork

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Peels House's Local Project Fund; $3.5 Million Is Removed from the Budget Proposal; Democrats Call the Funding Pork

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN BASINGER, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Republicans may rule the General Assembly, but efforts to craft a state budget for 2006 have left a kingdom divided between the Senate and House.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $17.4 billion spending plan Friday that strips out $3.5 million in funds the House had earlier earmarked for local projects in the hometowns of several dozen lawmakers, including top Republicans.

"This budget is smarter; it's people-centered, and it's more transparent," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, presenting his chamber's version of the budget that takes effect July 1.

Hill noted the Senate's proposal would re-establish a $3 million local development fund under the Department of Community Affairs, allowing the state agency to decide which cities and towns will receive community-level funds.

"We think that's a better way of handling assistance for local governments," Hill said.

However, House leaders immediately criticized the symbolic slap in the face from their Senate GOP brethren.

"I think that's a slippery slope for us to go down, turning over our authority to unelected bureaucrats," said House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin, R-Evans. "I don't think that's a good precedent."

The House approved its own version of the budget last week, with GOP leaders calling the local project money a necessary tool to promote economic development.

The list of 45 proposed grants includes sewer repairs in the Columbia County city of Harlem, storm drain repairs in Gainesville and a park renovation on St. Simons Island.

The three cities are the hometowns of House Majority Whip Barry Fleming, House Appropriations Vice Chairman Carl Rogers and House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, respectively.

Many Democrats criticized the grants as the same type of "pork-barrel" spending Republicans criticized for years when they were the state's minority power. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.