It's that time of year again; the time of year where communities from around the state submit requests for federal funding for their projects of interest and I, in turn, make those appropriation requests to be included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. This year, I received 289 requests totaling $1.4 billion from various groups, communities, and boroughs in Alaska, as well as from the State of Alaska.
Republicans in Congress have declared a moratorium on making these requests, but I believe that to do that would be turning my back on the state that I love while handing over control to President Obama and his appointed government officials. I am elected to serve my constituents and as long as they continue to request federal funding for their projects of interest, then I will continue to do my best to accommodate them.
I have always been vocal in my use of an open and honest earmark process, and this year is no different. Appropriations earmarks are the way members can take care of their district's needs and priorities. One of the most misunderstood earmark "facts" is that they add to the deficit; they do not. Earmarks are not appropriated in addition to a budget but are funds designated from agencies included within the budget, and account for less than one percent of the budget. Earmarks are Congress' way to direct a federal agency to fund and execute priorities that citizens have sought, members of Congress have considered and approved, and the president has enacted.
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