(08/17/2009)
Pork is alive and well in the West Virginia legislature, contingent upon the political clout to obtain it.

The public often rails about it, but generally likes it when they are the recipient.

If "hard times" slows down the pork, there is little evidence of that in Charleston (or Washington).

The old Budget Digest in WV has been replaced by the Community Partnership Project funds.

House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, told legislators that each house will have a maximum of $6.6 million this budget year for CPP projects.

If it was divided equally, which it is not, that would mean each House of Delegate member would get $66,000 to dispense and $195,000 for each senator.

Delegate David Walker, 33rd Delegate District (Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer) submitted his list of requests, which has included:

CALHOUN

Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center $5,000
Calhoun County 4-H $10,000
Calhoun County Park $20,000
Upper West Fork VFD $5,000
Upper West Fork Park $10,000
Grantsville VFD $5,000
Calhoun County Library $7,000
Arnoldsburg VFD $5,000
Calhoun EMS $20,000 (struck)
Calhoun Committee on Aging $30,000
Arnoldsburg Elementary School $5,238
Calhoun County Schools $2,000

GILMER/CLAY:

Gilmer County Commission $8,500
Clay County Development Corp. $33,932
Clay County Ambulance $3,000
Elk River Pedal and Paddle $500
Clay County High School (Appears to be $5,000)
Putnam Aging Program $22,464
Normantown Elementary $8,952
Clay County Schools Unlimited, Inc. $895
Sheriff of County $4,000
This year, limitations didn't stop Delegate Margaret Smith's request for $4.68 million for a Weston street scape project that would include construction of a new city hall and new fire station.

Delegate Jim Morgan didn't hold back with a request of $3.5 million for the Lincoln County Economic Development Authority for a county business park.

Legislators nearly always feel compelled to forward funding requests from constituents.

White told Charleston newspapers that Republicans frequently decry government spending, and call for budget cuts, they haven't been shy about requesting CPP funds.

House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, submitted 38 funding requests, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, although some are partnered with other legislators.

Charleston newspapers report Armstead's $250,000 requests were for the Kanawha County 4-H Foundation, to replace a swimming pool at Camp Virgil Tate, and for Sissonville Middle School for a soccer complex and walking trail.

Other interesting requests:

Delegate Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, who during the session pushed for mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients and cutting off benefits to those who test positive, sought $43,650 for the Poor House Farm in Hedgesville.

Delegate Tom Campbell, D-Greenbrier, requested $477,000 for the Lewisburg Elks Lodge, and $15,000 for the Greenbrier Hills Golf Course.

Delegate Harold Michael, D-Hardy, who was previously named by the Hur Herald as the state's "King of Pork," in the days of the Budget Digest, when he wielded power as House Finance chairman, has submitted 58 requests in amounts up to $500,000, including $100,000 for the Hardy County Wellness Center.

A Charleston newspaper reporter declared their favorite: Delegate Jeff Eldridge, D-Lincoln, requested $6,000 for the Island Creek Model Railroad Club in Logan for a trailer to transport the club's layout.

The new pork system, which was supposed to improve on the old Budget Digest, is less transparent. The old Digest was published from A to Z.

The media will have to dig to find out what is actually granted with the new Community Partnership fund.

If you have forgotten about WV PORK, read this:

KING MICHAEL'S DRUNKEN SAILOR MONEY - Makes Mezz Bucks Look Paltry

KING MICHAEL'S $$$ LAMENT HAS CHANGED - PROMISE Scholars Can Go Back To School

THE STAKE IN PORK - Budget Digest Under Review

DON'T STEP ON MY PORK - Budget Digest Before Supreme Court

TO PORK OR NOT TO PORK - That Is The Question?

FEW COUNTIES GET MOST OF BUDGET DIGEST MONEY

THE SCOURGE OF PORK - "Til The Livin' End"


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