Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Willamette Week Story on Earmarks; New Pivot Table Using WW Data

The August 15 Willamette Week weekly newspaper has a new story on earmarks HERE. (Full disclosure-I was interviewed for the piece and the story includes a quote from me and a reference to this blog).

My initial take is that WW and reporter Ian Demsky have done a good job in presenting key information about earmarks in Oregon.WW should also be commended for taking the time to download and build their own data set and also for making that data available to readers who may want to see more details on the specifics of Oregon earmarks.

To build on WW efforts, this morning I downloaded the WW earmark list and in MS Excel added a pivot table that makes it easy for readers to see earmark dollars by city and requestor (or to create Pivot tables of their own making). This expanded MS Excel workbook version of WW's earmark data is available HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

HUD Earmark Levels Over Last 5 Years; Another Omnibus HUD Spending Bill Would Make it 4 out of 5.

I've gone back and looked at national HUD earmarks from FY 2004-FY 2008 and have a better idea about how Congress will claim a reduction in earmarks. I focused on HUD earmarks for Economic Development Initiative and Neighborhood Initiative programs.

Because FY 2008 HUD earmarks in the House bill are half FY 2006 levels it seems highly likely that those are the two years which members will choose to compare.

HUD Earmark Levels FY 2004-FY 2008 (Pending):
FY 2008 $180 Million House Bill,, (Senate Bill higher at $288 Million)
FY 2007 $000 Million (Omnibus Appropriations Bill)
FY 2006 $360 Million
FY 2005 $304 Million (Omnibus Appropriations Bill)
FY 2004 $322 Million (Omnibus Appropriations Bill)

(I also snuck a peek back a decade ago to FY 1998--Earmarks for the EDI program were $100 Million and there were NO Neighborhood
Initiative earmarks!)

It appears highly likely that once again HUD appropriations may be rolled into an omnibus spending bill making it 4 out of the last 5 years that will have happened.

Missing in this analysis is a comparison of Presidential earmark levels over these same years--the Office of Management and Budget conveniently omits Presidential budget earmarks in their definition of earmarks. (One could argue that additional set asides for Enterprise, Habitat for Humanity, Youthbuild, La Raza and the Low Income Support Corporation should get also get counted as earmarks, but I didn't do so, as these are likely also found in the Presidents budget).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Earmark Reform Language From “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007”

Ethics Reform legislation has been sent to the President after passing both the Senate ( 83-14) and the House ( 411-8) last week.The specific bill language on Earmark reform from the legislation is HERE.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Database Correction Posted; Handful of Duplicate Entries Removed

In reviewing the data in my last posting and workbook I realized that there were a handful of Senate earmarks from the Commerce and Justice appropriations that had been entered twice. I have now removed those duplicates from the database in this CORRECTED database HERE.

The new Oregon earmark total is now $488,786,572 instead of the previously reported total of $490,586,572

1.The President’s earmark requests and those presidential earmarks supported by the delegation, and the difference between them, remained the same as in the earlier post:

The President’s budget earmark requests for Oregon: $454,707,000

Presidential Earmarks Only, Oregon Delegation requested: $373,442,833

Oregon delegation reduction in Presidential earmarks: ($81,264,167)

2. However, the amount of Oregon delegation earmarks NOT found in the President’s budget were reduced. This also reduced the net increase in delegation earmarks beyond those requested in the Presidents budget. The corrected amounts are:

Oregon delegation earmarks NOT in the President’s Budget: $115,343,739

Net Increase in Delegation Earmarks vs. President’s Budget: $34,079,572

I regret these errors.

Earmarks Inching Closer to Half a Billion; Delegation Earmarks vs. Presidential Earmarks Data Worksheets Added

House Defense and Agriculture earmarks have added another $20 Million to Oregon earmarks, bringing combined House and Senate earmarks past the $490 Million level for FY 2008. FY 2008 earmarks are 19 times FY 2007 Oregon earmarks of $25.73 Million.

Analysis of Presidential vs. Oregon Delegation Earmarks.

1.In the Excel workbook HERE I have added a new worksheet which includes only those earmarks where “the President” is included as either the requestor or in combination with an Oregon Senator or Representative.

The President’s budget earmark requests for Oregon:

Presidential Earmarks Only, Oregon Delegation requested:

Oregon Delegation Reduction in Presidential Earmarks: $(81,264,167)

2.I have added a second worksheet for earmarks NOT from the President, but added by a member of the delegation.

Oregon delegation earmarks NOT in the President’s Budget: $117,143,739

3.Net Increase in Delegation Earmarks vs. President’s Budget: $35,879,572

Some important notes:
  1. About ¼ of the appropriations bills remain to be passed by committee and data entered into the Oregon earmarks database.
  2. The database necessarily currently has similar/duplicate entries for the same project in differing bills from the House and Senate. The amount represented as Presidential earmarks are subject to similar duplication.
  3. None of the appropriations bills has been passed by both House and Senate and signed by the President. The bill reconciliation process, possible vetoes, and the possibility of an omnibus appropriations bill combining several individual bills will impact earmarks, most likely to reduce them.

There are three important “take aways’ :

  1. When all is said and done, Oregon final earmarks for FY 2008 may very well be LESS than the earmarks for Oregon requested by the President in his budget, albeit for different projects than requested in the budget.
  2. Data confirmation that the President’s Budget IS a key source of earmarks should not minimize the significant increase in Oregon Earmarks that seems likely to occur from FY 2007 to FY 2008.
  3. With few appropriations bills actually signed into law it seems likely there may be once again an omnibus spending bill combining several appropriations into one bill. This would likely refocus attention on earmarks, even though unlike last year this is not an election year (but it is a year before the presidential electon).