Lawmakers on Capitol Hill might have eliminated earmarks from MAP-21, but in Massachusetts the practice is making a comeback.
Both the state House and Senate have plastered a $1.39 billion transportation bond bill with earmarks in an effort to force Gov. Deval Patrick to spend a tight budget on targeted local projects instead of those which are more pressing.
Just a few years ago earmarks were frowned upon in Massachusetts, but the tactic appears to be back in style. Many of the earmarks have been placed by committees, which supposedly prevents them from being added on the House or Senate floor, saving a considerable amount of time.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo also said Patrick has the authority to spend, or not to spend, borrowed money on projects. So if the governor objects to a particular earmark, the project is simply shelved.
“I think this gives us the ability to just set forth our desires,” DeLeo told the Boston Globe. “It ultimately will still fall upon the governor to make the decision what projects get done or not done. This just sets forth the will of the individual members in terms of what projects they would like to get.”