Tennessee Lags Behind In Earmark Bounty

Lawmakers in Washington often bring federal dollars to Tennessee through the controversial earmarking process. But a recent Harvard Business School study found the state isn’t doing too well in comparison. Manuel Quinones has more from Washington.

The study crunched numbers between 1991 and 2008. Over that time Tennessee got a yearly average of about $87 million from special lawmaker requests or earmarks. Compare that to almost $400 million for California.

Tennessee also had lackluster numbers per-capita. The state received a yearly average of about $16 per person. Alaskans got an average of more than $400 per person.

Democrat Jim Cooper is not impressed.

COOPER: “Our job is to protect Tennessee taxpayers and the more earmarks there are for Alaska and places like that, the worse for Tennessee taxpayers.”

Cooper and Republican Marsha Blackburn had sworn off earmarks even before party leaders began cracking down. Blackburn says states and localities have access to numerous federal grants for local projects.

BLACKBURN: “We have many of our communities that have done very well in applying for grants.”

Senator Bob Corker withdrew his earmark requests earlier this year. Senator Lamar Alexander – a member of the Appropriations Committee – says earmarks fund important projects in Tennessee. Both are backing legislation to make the process more transparent.

From Capitol News Connection in Washington, I’m Manuel Quinones for Nashville Public Radio.

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