Monday, August 13, 2007

The Other White Meat

In response to the budget recently overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly, Governor Blagojevich stated that, "It's got so much pork in it that if you were to hold the budget document itself, you'd probably be unable to hold it because it's so greasy."

I think that the Governor's statement is understandable in that the 'pork demon' is one that is easily sold to the general public.

But it's not really accurate. The concept of 'member initiatives' is rooted in the belief that legislators are best situated to know the local needs of their districts. To the extent that a legislator can direct funding for a laudable purpose that can withstand public scrutiny, I believe that it is a legitimate part of the budget making process.

The public scrutiny aspect is key to this argument. This year, 3 of the 4 legislative caucuses (HDem, HRep, SRep) listed all member initiatives as line items in the budget so that they can be easily viewed. In furtherance of this transparency, all of my projects are listed at the end of this post. My initiatives consist of funding for local schools, libraries, and a grant to the local YMCA, which does some great things in the district.

For the Governor to generalize all initiatives as 'pork' is misleading and duplicitous. This is the same Governor who gave $1,000,000 for a minor league baseball stadium in downstate Illinois 'on a spur of the moment decision'. And while that grant may be justified, I am sure that the Governor did not refer to it as 'pork' at the time.

In a related twist, and something that is no fault of the Governor's, earlier this year, I introduced, and passed out of the House, HB473, legislation that I worked on with Sen. Obama's office to provide transparency in state grants and funding. The bill is modeled on Sen. Obama's federal earmark transparency bill which has received widespread attention and acclaim. (The bill shows up as a Rep. Bradley bill because I transferred sponsorship in order to get around the bill limit.)

My legislation passed the House 116-0 and has languished in the Senate for months. Until last week that is.

That's when the Senate Executive Committee gutted the bill and reduced it to a shell. I asked the Senate sponsor of the amendment why the action was taken and was derisively told that they desperately needed the bill as a vehicle for budgetary purposes. (It was never used for that purpose. Surprise surprise.)

I find it incredibly ironic that legislation that I worked on with Sen. Obama's office would be eviscerated by the very chamber in which he used to serve.

In any event, I do not have high hopes that the member initiatives are going to survive the still-unfolding budget process. If they don't, I'll leave it to the Governor to explain to the schools near his house that the new books and computers that they need are simply 'greasy pork'. I just don't see it that way.

As mentioned above, here are the line items that I requested be placed in the budget:
Page 975, Section 144. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to the Lakeview YMCA for capital repairs and community room development.

Section 145. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to Chicago Public Libraries for the Lincoln Park branch.

Section 146. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to Chicago Public Libraries for the Lincoln/Belmont branch.

Section 147. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to the Chicago Park District for Lakeview High School campus playlot renovations.

Section 148. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to Chicago Public Libraries for the Wicker Park/Bucktown branch.

Section 149. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to Chicago Public Libraries for the Sulzer Regional branch.

Page 1066, Section 63. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Lane Tech High School.

Section 64. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Lakeview High School.

Section 65. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Mayer School.

Section 66. The sum of $25,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Lincoln Park High School.

Section 67. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Waters School.

Section 68. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Prescott School.

Section 69. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Coonley School.

Section 70. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Jahn School.

Section 71. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Hamilton School.

Section 72. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Abraham Lincoln School.

Section 73. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Agassiz School.

Section 74. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Alcott School.

Section 75. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Drummond School.

Section 76. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Audubon School.

Section 77. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Bell School.

Section 78. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Blaine School.

Section 79. The sum of $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for a grant to Chicago Public Schools for Burley School.
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