Conservative group: State budget has $61M in earmarks

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A conservative watchdog group is calling out Pennsylvania lawmakers for what it says are millions of dollars in earmarks hidden in the state’s fiscal code.

The Commonwealth Foundation found at least $61 million in earmarks this year, which is up from $35 million they found last year. The foundation says it’s hard to find where the money is because it’s hidden in obscure language.

“Something like ‘a hospital in a county of the third class, in a city of the second class, with a population of 110,000 to 120,000,” said Nathan Benefield, the vice president and COO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “The average person and even someone studying the budget has trouble figuring out where that money is going to go.”

Benefield says the language is obscure for a reason. According to the state’s constitution, lawmakers cannot give money to a specific charitable or educational organization that’s not under state control unless it’s approved by a two-thirds majority.

“By putting in the language this way, they can actually earmark funds to a specific organization, a private organization, and get around the constitutional protection,” Benefield said.

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