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"Jurassic Pork" report proves earmarks live on

Published in Blog on July 17, 2017 by Convention Of States Project

If you thought Jurassic Park was bad, wait till you hear about Jurassic Pork...

From a railroad theme park in Pennsylvania to a science center in San Francisco, a range of earmark projects have lived on long after the kind of earmarks that spawned them were banned, according to a new report released Thursday called "Jurassic Pork." 

Riffing off the release this weekend of the latest "Jurassic Park" film, the report from Sen. Jeff  Flake, R-Ariz., lists what he calls “fossilized” projects. They pre-date the earmark ban but still are collecting money to this day from other taxpayer sources. 

“Even long beyond their expiration date, they live on – they find a way,” Flake told Fox News Thursday morning, sounding a bit like Dr. Ian Malcolm himself. 

Congress technically banned the practice of earmarks -- provisions that direct funding to a lawmaker's pet projects, typically in his or her home state -- in 2010. But a number of projects that started with earmarked funds are still chugging along. 

Flake highlighted Colorado’s Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), nicknamed VelociRFTA -- a rapid transit system that even has a dinosaur theme. The public transportation route between Aspen and Greenwood includes buses with WiFi and heated sidewalks, and even "replica dinosaur eggs" for kids to play on. Despite its low usage rates, RFTA has received $36 million since the ban, according to Flake's report.  

Meanwhile, Steamtown USA, a railroad theme park in Pennsylvania fueled by an initial earmark in 1986, has received nearly $100 million in federal funding over three decades and millions to this day annually, according to the report, which also suggests Steamtown's National Park designation was railroaded through by its patron in Congress, former Rep. Joseph McDade, R-Pa. "This is another example of how, once the earmark train has left the station, taxpayers can expect it to continue to chug straight off the fiscal cliff," the report reads.  

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