This year, Congress spent a record $1.837-billion in pork-barrel projects on university campuses, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
And out of 668 institutions that benefited from the spending, USF cut the largest piece from the Congressional pie. USF received $41.4 million, about $10 million more than the next highest institution.
Florida was also the top pork-barrel state for 2002, receiving $117.9 million dollars, $16 million more than second-place California.
The reason Florida fared so well?
A lot of the credit has been given to C.W. Bill Young, a Pinellas County Republican. Young holds substantial Congressional power, serving as head of the House Appropriations Committee.
The Chronicle discussed in some detail the somewhat controversial nature of pork-barrel spending, which Merriam-Webster’s College Dictionary calls money “yielding rich patronage benefits.”
The Chronicle said the pork-barrel projects’ controversy lies in the fact that they “depend on the political influence and seniority of the lawmakers who secure them, and circumvent the open, peer-reviewed competitions that federal agencies typically use to award money for such projects.”
This would seem to be the case with the clout held by Rep. Young.
Furthermore, The Chronicle said, the money is at times used for projects that are not nationally important.
Young did not return phone calls Monday. He was, however, quoted in the St. Petersburg Times while responding to The Chronicle’s story.
Young told the Times while others may call the money pork, he does not apologize for any of it. Young said he feels state universities have a lot to offer to national issues.
In addition to substantial gains made in Florida, federal pork-barrel spending was up overall about 10 percent over last year. The numbers seem to suggest that much of the reason is higher defense spending that has stemmed from the new war on terror.
The Chronicle reported the highest percentage of the money was earmarked by defense, about 29 percent of the total spending. The publication cited an example in which St. Petersburg College, which offers two-year programs, received $2.6 million for its National Terrorism Preparedness Institute.
Money will be spent on defense issues at USF, such as at the USF Center for Biodefense. In addition, some of the money will be spent in the medical portion of campus, including the H. Lee Moffitt Center.