Friday, June 08, 2007

Craddick suporters repaid in pork

State budget loaded with pork-barrel spending


Associated Press
Copyright 2007

In this year's legislative session, it paid to support embattled House Speaker Tom Craddick.

That support translated into state dollars for an antebellum plantation home near Dallas, an Edinburg museum of South Texas history, and upgrades to a Houston park named for an influential Craddick legislative ally.

Recent budget prosperity and a presiding officer in desperate need of allies ushered in a return of pork-barrel spending during the recent session. In the new budget for 2008 and 2009, those who helped Craddick survive a bipartisan coup try were big winners of an estimated $176 million in so-called "special items."

But Craddick spokeswoman Alexis DeLee says the "budget process that took place this last session is the same as it's always been."

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, supported Craddick. He got a $600,000 matching grant for renovations at the Sylvester Turner Park in Houston. Turner says renovations to the 27-year-old park are needed, including new bathrooms to replace portable toilets.

Rep. Helen Giddings is another Democrat who supported Craddick. She helped the South Dallas suburb of DeSoto get $500,000 to buy the historic Nance Farm, a plantation home built in the 1850s.

Border area Democrats, a key bloc of support for Craddick's re-election, did particularly well in the $153 billion budget.

Democratic Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City got an $800,000 matching grant for a new park in his small border town and a new rural technology center for vocational skills training. A zoo in Brownsville and a soccer complex in Kingsville will get almost $700,000 combined for renovations. Another $10 million was set aside for Harlingen's South Texas Hospital and $1 million for a border security technology and training center in McAllen.

Democratic Representative Aaron Pena of Edinburg helped bring the city $3 million for a new drug treatment center and $750,000 for the Will Looney Legacy Park and a museum of South Texas history.

© 2007 The Associated Press:

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