Georgia wants millions in federal dollars to deepen Savannah harbor. Georgia officials believe the project that has significance not just for the state, but for the whole nation. But other states want the money, too. Right now, however, the nation has no national strategy for determining where taxpayer dollars would be best spent.
President Obama's budget released this morning includes about $600,000 for the engineering phase of the Savannah harbor deepening. But that's only a fraction of the millions of dollars that state officials were seeking. State officials consider it the most important economic development project.
Fresh off his appointment to the powerful US House Appropriations Committee, Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Graves says, his anti-earmark pledge applies even to harbor deepening. State officials consider the half-billion-dollar project to deepen the Port of Savannah critical for job creation. But in his first week since being named to the House panel that oversees federal spending, Graves says, he will put the nation's interest first.
With most of Georgia's Republican US House delegation signed on to a "no earmark" pledge, the fate of Georgia's biggest economic development project falls to Senators and some Democrats. GOP leaders in the new Congress say they won't pass a budget with unpopular so-called "pork barrel" spending. But that might include harbor deepening at the Port of Savannah.