Some in Washington seem to believe that the way our nation currently funds infrastructure projects is the only way. For example, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) told Politico:
Let’s look at transportation. How do you handle that without earmarks, since that’s a heavily earmarked bill? How do you handle a Corps of Engineers project? I think, right now, we go through a period where we have gone one step further than we meant to go, and there are some unintended consequences.
But as the chart to the right demonstrates, the federal government’s dependence on earmarking as THE method for allocating transportation funds is a very recent development. The Heritage Foundation’s Run Utt recently detailed to The Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott: “Until 1984, earmarks in transportation appropriations bills averaged about three a year …the 1982 bill included just 10 earmarks, while 1987?s authorized 152. Back then they were called ‘demonstration’ projects, today they are called ‘high priority’ projects, indicating that the process has corrupted even the language.”