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Big savings gained from less pork

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — To the surprise of many, state senators voted overwhelmingly last Saturday to ax $130 million of pork projects that were approved in previous years but weren’t going anywhere.

It is a sign of how seriously senators are taking the budget balancing process. This column has opined on several occasions that lawmakers must share the budget-deficit pain with taxpayers, public employees, schools and state agencies.

We suggested cutting legislative per diem and travel, but cutting their pork will be much more painful because lawmakers believe that pork is what gets them reelected.

Pork money is for community projects, but lawmakers think of it as theirs because they can take credit for bringing it home. And if the money is for a building, they might even get their name on it.

People who are closely tied to those local projects won’t be happy with their senators who didn’t go to the mat to save the projects. But senators don’t have to run this year. It may be more difficult, however, for House members to vote for the cuts.

We may see a much closer vote on the pork withdrawal in the House because representatives all have to defend their seats this year.


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