Monday, May 05, 2008

Wasteful Earmarks Not Part Of The Gas Tax Holiday Discussion

Lost in the whole gasoline tax holiday debate (more) is any mention of the fact that Congress utilizes gas tax revenue as an earmark slush fund.

In 2007, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General found:
• Department of Transportation (DOT) earmarks have increased in number by 1,150 percent in 10 years (1996 – 2005), with the value of earmarks in the same timeframe jumping 314 percent.

• Ninety-nine percent of earmarks (7,724 out of 7,760) were not subject to the transportation agencies’ review and selection processes or bypassed the states’ normal planning and programming processes.

• Earmarks may not be the most effective or efficient use of funds. The IG report identifies five ways in which earmarks impact programs in the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration, as follows (see pages 11 – 14 of the full report):

o Earmarks can reduce funding for the states’ core transportation programs.

o Earmarks do not always coincide with DOT strategic research goals.

o Many low priority, earmarked projects are being funded over higher priority, non-earmarked projects.

o Earmarks provide funds for projects that would otherwise be ineligible.

o Earmarks can disrupt the agency’s ability to fund programs as designated when authorized funding amounts are exceeded by “overearmarking.”


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