Is this pork?


There’s $45 million for the Central Corridor light rail project. And $300,000 for juvenile crime prevention on the north side of Minneapolis. And $200,000 for afterschool programs for Somali youth in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

They are among the $300 million in congressional earmarks being sought by Minnesota’s Democratic members of Congress in the House of Representatives.

No House Republicans have put in for earmarks this year, calling them pork and wasteful spending. So if you’re in one of their districts, you won’t be getting your federal tax dollars back, unless a Democratic U.S. Senator helps you out.

Since the Minnesota legislature is taking a little down time, I thought it was a good time to show you how to see the earmark requests made on Minnesota’s behalf this year. As U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., says in her earmark page, these requests were all submitted at the request of Minnesota constituents.

On Congressman Keith Ellison’s earmarks page, each request includes an explanation for the item entitled “Legitimate use of taxpayer funds.”

Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s earmarks page is organized by Congressional subcommittee.

Some of the requests would bring federal tax dollars back to the members’ districts. For example, Ellison requests $300,000 to expand the Bolder Options program for truant youth and juvenile criminal offenders to expand into Minneapolis’ northside neighborhood.

Another $200,000 in Ellison’s earmark requests would go to the Da Al-Hijrah Cultural Center in Minneapolis, for afterschool programming for the Somali community in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

McCollum requests $400,000 for expanding the Minnesota Hands and Voices program from St. Paul-based Lifetrack Resources, to provide culturally appropriate information to children and families experiencing hearing loss.

The earmarks don’t have to be for a members’ district, or even for their state, however. McCollum requested a $14 million earmark for the National Arboretum in Washington D.C.

Nor does it have to be to fund a public project, or even a nonprofit. Klobuchar includes a $500,000 earmark for SVT Associates Inc. of Eden Prairie, to develop industrial furnace efficency sensors to reduce waste.

CORRRECTION: U.S. Sen Al Franken’s 2011 earmark requests can be found here. I missed it after not seeing it on his front page and not finding it after a search of his site for “earmarks.” Leigh Hartman of Franken’s office helpfully provided the link, which is located at the bottom of the “Issues and Legislation” page of Franken’s site.

You can find the earmark requests from Minnesota Democratic U.S. Reps. Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Jim Oberstar here, here and here, respectively.