NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 19, 2008

A report to Congress that requests $73.2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects around the country also includes plans for a polar bear exhibit, an anti-prostitution program, a water park ride, zoos, museums and aquatic centers, CNN has found.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors went to Capitol Hill earlier this month with a report listing 11,391 infrastructure projects proposed by 427 cities.  The mayors claimed the proposal would create 847,641 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

The more than 800-page document is titled "Main Street Economic Recovery: 'Ready To Go' Jobs and Infrastructure Projects."  A close examination of the projects by CNN shows proposals that go far beyond basic infrastructure plans for roads, bridges and other traditional public works projects.

Among the many requests:

  • $4.8 million for a polar bear exhibit at the Providence, R.I., zoo; the zoo's director said it's needed to boost attendance.
  • $1.5 million for a water ride at the Grapeland Water Park in Miami, Fla.
  • $20 million for a minor league baseball museum in Durham, N.C.
  • $6.1 million for a corporate jet hangars at the Fayetteville, Ark., airport.
  • $20 million for renovations at the Philadelphia Zoo.
  • $1.5 million for a program to reduce prostitution in Dayton, Ohio.

Pete Sepp, vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, said the polar bear exhibit and many of the other proposals in the report are just plain pork.

"To the people supporting them, these proposals aren't a joke, but to the taxpayers funding them, yes -- this will be a joke for them, only they won't be laughing," Sepp said.

"It's impossible for any normal taxpaying American to read this and not come away scratching their head and saying, 'Wait a minute, this isn't about infrastructure,'" Sepp said.  "This is about political power grabs, money grabs."

Source: Abbie Boudreau and Scott Zamost, " Mayors' infrastructure request full of pork, critic says,", December 18, 2008.

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