Mississippi near top in earmarks requests for 2011 - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi near top in earmarks requests for 2011

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -- Once again Mississippi is at the top of the list for potential earmarks going into the new year.

Earmarks have been widely criticized in the spending bill for Congress, but, hundreds of millions of dollars are on the table for agencies, organizations, and government entities in Mississippi.

Of the $8.3 billion on the table nationwide, the state is expected to see close to $560 million for about 240 different projects statewide.

The amount per project may range anywhere from $10,000 to improve a water system to the Yazoo Basin to $34.9 million to improve delivery of health services to the Mississippi Delta.

Mississippi Blood Services is one of these agencies hoping to receive a chunk of the pie.  As of now, they're looking to get around $485,000 for new equipment.

Spokesperson Tony Bahou says the demand to donate is increasing.

"We have to meet the patients needs," Bahou said. "We have about 220 patients or donors that we process everyday."

Bahou says each one of the blood donating machines costs around $60,000 dollars. Last year, they received around $300 thousand in earmarks to replace various equipment.

"Technology continually advances and we need new equipment to process the blood."

However, if the earmarks didn't past Congress he says they would have no choice, but to seek the funding elsewhere.

"Whether it was another endowment we'd have to go ask for another grant from another organization."

Public universities also take up a large chunk totaling around $48 million.

For instance, Mississippi State University is asking for around $7.5 million, the University of Mississippi is asking for $18 million, the University of Southern Mississippi is asking for $19.4 million, and Jackson State University is requesting $3.1 million.

Republicans have been outspoken against the Congressional earmarks, however, Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran is behind a lot of the earmarked projects for 2011.

Earmarks make up for about one-half of a percentage point of the overall nationwide budget on any given year.

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