Is it pork or a boon for the local area?
That remains the eternal question when it comes to congressional earmarks.
Earmarks are the often controversial revenue designations members of congress are allowed to make during the annual budget process. This is where lawmakers get funding for a certain project, the value of which is sometimes called into question by the public or other lawmakers.
"People are using the term earmark very loosely," U.S. Rep Marcy Kaptur told Register reporter Tom Jackson recently. "A lot of this results from this 'bridge to nowhere' in Alaska."
That of course is the notorious earmark, or pork, project. A $315 million bridge to link an Alaskan town to a very sparsely populated island was the result of much national attention in 2005. Despite outcry and politicians kind of backing off of it, the money actually remains allocated for the bridge.
Earmarks both get politicians in trouble and reelected. That is because there are some good earmarks and even some bad ones look good to people getting the money.
It is a fine line when it comes to earmarks. A congressman who brings home the bacon to his district looks good to his constituents, but runs the risk of looking like the Alaskan senator who was pushing for the bridge project.
Kaptur has brought money home for her district. Helping Put-in-Bay obtain funding for a new water system, wind turbines for BGSU Firelands and a feasibility study for a new airport for Erie County.
With her party coming into power Kaptur has the ability to perhaps provide even more for us. There are, however, calls for earmarks to stop or at least be controlled. We both agree and disagree.
We hate to just say earmarks are bad for others and good when Kaptur brings them home for us. We encourage Kaptur and other congressional members to be judicious when it comes to earmarks. Carefully weight the merits of each one. Only fund those that seem like truly needed projects. If you do that, we will support your decision, even if it means we don't get $40 million for a museum to the red salamander that we just know is indigenous to the Firelands.