Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bringing the pork home to the Land of Lincoln

A press release from U.S. Rep Ray LaHood's office, via the Illinois Channel:

WASHINGTON, DC (April 30)—By a vote of 291-117, the U.S. House last night approved legislation authored by Congressman Ray LaHood (R-Peoria) which would establish the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois. LaHood represents the same 11 counties which Abraham Lincoln represented for one term in the U.S. House. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced and guided the legislation in the U.S. Senate, which approved the bill on April 10. The legislation was contained in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, a comprehensive public lands bill (S. 2739). The bill now heads to the White House for an expected signature from President Bush.

LaHood’s legislation grew out of an idea from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, a Springfield-based group which has led efforts to create this Heritage Area. The legislation provides for up to $15 million in federal funds over 15 years to make grants available to assist with preservation and education of the Lincoln story at sites and communities throughout the area. The National Heritage Area encompasses 42 counties across the middle section of Illinois, from the Mississippi River in Western Illinois east to the Indiana border.

You know, $15 million here, $15 million there and pretty soon it ads up to a real money.

My question is this: Where do these "sites and communities" get their funding now? Are we going to be generating new "Lincoln sites"? And what does this have to do with natural resources? When I think of natural resources, I'm thinking of rivers and trees.

I Googled the Looking for Lincoln group and found the site. All it does is promote tours of various sites in four Illinois communities. Shouldn't the funds for this come from where ever the Hell Congress usually funds local tourism efforts? At least here in Peoria, we tax our own poor people to pay for our futile tourism programs.

Feh. If this was a City of Peoria budget item, we'd be grumbling about how many sidewalks we could use this money on instead. But I can't really blame LaHood or Durbin since they are giving Illinoisans what they want: A piece of the pork pie.

Cross posted to Peoria Pundit.

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