Call them pork. Call them business as usual. Whatever their name, congressional earmarks send hundreds of millions to Kansas to the delight of some and the dismay of others. That’s according to a report issued today by Taxpayers for Common Sense. On the delight side would be the military. Nearly all of Wichita’s earmarks went to the aviation industry, which builds things for the military. Among those was the biggest earmark — $8.3 million, which went to Hawker-Beechcraft for UC-12 replacement aircraft. (See press release.) But the cash also paid for redevelopment of the Dunbar Theater and sent money to Wichita’s school district for technology upgrades.
Sen. Sam Brownback, who stood a couple feet behind Sen. John McCain in an airplane hanger in Wichita last week as McCain lambasted the use of earmarks, leads the Kansas delegation with $87 million in special projects, according to the report. But even with that $87 million, Brownback is way down on the Senate earmark rankings in spot 82. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts helped secure $54 million in earmarks, the report shows.
In the House, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, is Kansas’ biggest earmark advocate with $66 million (he ranks 35th highest in the House, in part because he secured the UC-12 airplane replacement project). Rep. Nancy Boyda, a Kansas Democrat, logged $38 million in earmarks; Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Dennis Moore were nearly tied with $8 million a piece.