The cost of earmarks increased this year despite lawmakers’ claims they’re working to reduce pork-barrel spending.
Earmarks, which are inserted in appropriations bills by members in order to fund specific projects, added up to $19.9 billion in 2009, according to an analysis by the Taxpayers for Common Sense and Center for Responsive Politics. Earmarks in 2008 spending bills were worth $18.3 billion.
The earmark study, released Thursday, found that states with smaller populations, and members of Congress on the appropriations panels, were big earmark winners.
Alaska, home of a former appropriator, Sen. Ted Stevens (R), and a current appropriator, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), received more than $331 per person in earmark funds, the most for any state. The states with the next two highest levels of per capita earmark money were Mississippi, home of Sen. Thad Cochran, the top Senate GOP appropriator, and North Dakota, home of Sen. Byron Dorgan, a senior Democratic appropriator.