Mississippi ranks second highest for Congressional earmarks - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi ranks second highest for Congressional earmarks

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -- Republican leadership in Congress is calling for a "two year" moratorium on earmarks.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker says he supports this ban; however, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has questioned whether this is the best approach.

While both senators have approved spending for pet projects, Sen. Cochran lead the nation with the highest rate of earmarks in 2010.

He approved 240 projects worth $490.2 million dollars.

The total amount of earmarks accounted for in 2010 was $16.5 billion with 9,129 projects according to the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

This is slightly down from 2009, which was at $19.6 billion with 10,160 projects.

Research institutions like the University of Mississippi Medical Center has received millions of dollars annually for major construction projects because of Congressional earmarks.

"Since 2000, we've received about $75 million worth of earmarks for projects at the medical center," said Director of Strategic Research Alliance, Dr. David Dzielak.

Dzielak says this is how the institution has been able to finish projects such as the Author Guyton Research Center, one of the institutions premiere research facility.

For 2010, UMC received near $14 million dollars, and next year, they're hoping to get just over $12 million.

"About $4.1 million for new funds to develop a new research building, and then $8 million for the continued development of our research park," Dzielak said.

However, Dzielak says if the moratorium goes into place, funding the major research park project will be delayed and he says delay the research that goes with it.

"While most people don't lose sleep over stuff like that, I do. Because it makes a significant impact on us."

Mississippi Republican Party member, and Hinds Co. Republican Chairman, Pete Perry says the real trouble with earmarks may be found right at the state capitol rather than in Washington.

"I wish people that are raising cane about the earmarks in Washington would rise up and raise the same cane with legislative leaders here," Perry said.

Mississippi currently ranks second highest in nation over the past two years in the number of congressional earmarks.

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