Earmark reform and MetroRail funding
Check out this last bit in today's Move It! column from George Smalley regarding MetroRail funding:
Metro spokesman George Smalley said Metro expects continued support from its congressional delegation to help get $1 billion over 10 years to build out the system.
If the dollar flow were constant, Metro would get $100 million in fiscal 2007. It still might, Smalley said, noting that last fall's $12 million wasn't in FTA's budget proposal either.
But it's hardly automatic. "We still have to do our homework and put forth sound projects," he said.
With a per-rider subsidy of +$23, Metro certainly does have some homework to do, and as the above quote hints, Metro depends on congressional earmark funding.
Here's something else to consider: As many blogreaders know, there is an effort by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to reduce congressional earmarks, to the point of threatening the prized "comity of the Senate."
As George Will pointed out yesterday, Sen. Coburn isn't much interested in being popular with his Senate colleagues:
When Coburn disparaged an earmark for Seattle -- $500,000 for a sculpture garden -- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was scandalized: "We are not going to watch the senator pick out one project and make it into a whipping boy." She invoked the code of comity: "I hope we do not go down the road deciding we know better than home state senators about the merits of the projects they bring to us." And she warned of Armageddon: "I tell my colleagues, if we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next." But Coburn, who does not do earmarks, thinks Armageddon sounds like fun.
Shining the light on earmark spending DOES sound like fun!
McCain has voiced reservations regarding light rail.
[...]McCain criticized Congressional spending for being laden with 'pork barrel' special projects.
And any political realist would have to admit that Sen. McCain stands a good chance of being elected president in 2008.
Just some Monday morning musing...