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April 20, 2010 3:30 am

PORK BARREL SPENDING: Wyoming leanest state in nation

Written by Tribune Staff

As anti-spend sentiments came to a boil at Tea Party rallies throughout the nation last week, it's important to recognize that Wyoming's pork-barrel spending is the lowest in the nation.

In the “2010 Pig Book” recently released by the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, Wyoming ranked the lowest for so-called pork-barrel projects. The watchdog group defines pork projects as “a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures.”

The national average for pork spending is $27 per person. Hawaii topped the pork-per-capita list at $251 per person, while spending for Wyoming stood at $12 per resident.

Our northern neighbor Montana ranked seventh on the list, with spending at $105 per person. Montana's Rep. Denny Rehberg recorded the highest number of earmark projects in the House of Representatives, with 88. By comparison, Wyoming's three-member Congressional Delegation had just five projects deemed as pork.

The Cowboy State also showed the most significant improvement from the previous year. In 2009, Wyoming ranked 15th on the list. This year, the state dropped 36 spots to the 51st position.

The report is a testament to Wyoming's Congressional Delegation's fiscal responsibility. While other members of Congress have slipped earmarks into legislation, Wyoming's leaders have shown restraint, keeping the state's pork-spending the lowest in the nation.

Earmarks are enticing for some members of Congress. As Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told CBS News last week, earmarks buy votes. “And if any senior member of our conference or this Congress wants to pass a bill, they use earmarks. They sprinkle them around like candy,” he said.

It's encouraging to see that isn't the case for Wyoming.