FORT WORTH -- Earmarks may be a dirty word to some, but not to several area mayors who told U.S. Rep. Kay Granger on Wednesday night that they hope she can start asking for special funding for their communities once a Republican-led moratorium against the earmarks ends.
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said he'd much rather that Granger, R-Fort Worth, be the one asking for funding for local projects than a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., who isn't familiar with North Texas' needs at all.
"We want our elected officials to make those decisions," Moncrief said at a meeting Granger held at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden with dozens of area mayors.
North Texas has benefited from earmarks, such as those set aside for the $909 million flood-control and economic-development project known as the Trinity River Vision. An earmark places a certain amount of money in a funding bill and tells a federal agency specifically how to spend it.
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Granger said she is observing the GOP moratorium on asking for earmarks but said it's designed to last only long enough for leaders to develop a plan to reform the process. She said she doesn't believe that federal officials best understand where funding needs to go.
"I hope we will change this," she said. "Yes, we need to be transparent and show where the funding is going."
Earmarks were just one topic addressed during the mayors' hourlong meeting with Granger, which touched on transportation needs, a growing federal government, the stimulus and local needs.
Willow Park Mayor Ken Hawkins told Granger that he is worried about growth in government and about what must be done to serve the country best.
"I'm scared about what I see in Washington," he said. "We still have a mindset of 'what can we get?'
"I'm really concerned and wondering, What can you do in your position to fundamentally change the process? It's broken."
Granger said the federal government may be too big to work well, something she hopes can change if Republicans regain a majority in Congress.
"We are so big and so out of control," she said. "I think it will take major changes. ... It's going to be one tough job and one that won't be popular."
Granger said she meets with area mayors every year to listen to local concerns.
She said the main concern she hears is healthcare reform, but many people are still worried about the economy and want improvements to happen faster, And they are also concerned about immigration and violence along the Texas-Mexico border.
As for her priorities, Granger said she hopes to help "win back the majority, get people back to work and not raise taxes."
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610