CAGW’s Pork PatrolSM takes a closer look at fiscal 2000 academic pork

When it comes to pork-barrel spending, nobody feeds at the trough with more gusto than colleges and universities.  Ivory towers often disguise some of the most ridiculous projects funded by the federal government.  Here are just a few examples:

Earmark on How to Get Earmarks – $850,000 was earmarked for the East St. Louis Center operated by Southern Illinois University.  This will fund a study on how to spend multiple sources of funding.

Retaining Students at Columbia College – Is it the taxpayer’s problem if Columbia College can’t retain its students?  It is now.  $500,000 to Columbia College in Illinois for the Year One Discovery program to “assist incoming freshman and transfer students to become acclimated to Columbia College and to improve their retention.”

Corporate Welfare for Oil Barons – $1.4 million to Texas A&M University's Offshore Technology Resource Center.  This program essentially provides free research for oil companies on offshore drilling; corporate and academic welfare at it worst.  Located in the state of Senate appropriator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas).

Memorials to Purveyors of Pork – The state of Washington loves to honor its retired pork-barrel benefactors through academic earmarks:  $3 million for the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy at the University of Washington ($2 million in conference, $1 million in omnibus) and $3 million for the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University ($1.5 million in conference, $1.5 million in omnibus).

Dollars for Dolls – $3.5 million added by the Senate in the State of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum, which has held such educational exhibits as “Women of the Alaska Gold Rush,” “Not Just a Pretty Face – Evolution of a Doll Collection,” and “Fly Fishing and Book Making.”

Grass Fetish – It seems that the University of Washington has a $200,000 spartina grass fetish.  What is spartina grass?  It’s same grass that Pilgrims would have seen when they landed on Plymouth Rock in 1621.  Even more inane trivia – UW is the alma mater of House Appropriator Norm Dicks (D-Wash.).

Wanna Buy a Swamp? – Actually, you just did.  $1 million for research associated with the restoration and enhancement of Manchac Swamp conducted by Southeastern Louisiana University at the Turtle Cove Research Station.  One has to wonder why federal money is going to a swamp that is mostly private, where trappers hold a lot of the land.

Something’s Smells at Purdue – $750,000 for a Purdue University project that will explore ways to deal with animal waste.  The money will help fund a two-year effort by the newly formed National Center for Animal Waste Management Technologies to discover ways to reduce problems posed by livestock manure.  Ron Turco, director of Purdue’s Environmental Sciences Institute, said of the project, “we are trying to solve some real problems with the use of appropriate technologies.”  Rep. Steven Buyer, (R-Ind.), announced that the money for Purdue is included in the VA-HUD appropriations bill.  Turco said Purdue officials talked with Buyer about the animal waste project and the possibility of getting federal funds.

Take from the Poor; Give to the Rich – The Community Development Block Grant program was originally designed to help low-and moderate-income households.  But instead of going to the poor, money has gone to such academic programs as the National Center for Excellence in Environmental Management at the University of Findlay in Ohio.  The University plans to use the money to enhance its bachelor degree program in hazardous materials management, and teach high school teachers about environmental compliance and industrial safety issues.”  Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) said the groundwork for this grant was laid down in 1995, when the university president testified about the need for the program.


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