Pennsylvania’s FY 2011 budget is filled with WAMs

Pennsylvania has put together a $28 billion budget that is balanced through evasive practices. The budget relies on hundreds of millions in not-yet-promised federal money and overstated revenue increases. More disturbing is the $66 million in “WAMs” or Walking Around Money. Pennsylvania’s version of legislative pork politics, WAMs are revenues that are set aside for lawmakers to shower on pet projects in their districts.

WAMs were ruled unconstitutional in 1995. So the legislature renamed them Legislative Initiative Grants (LIGs). Last year, Pennsylvania lawmakers handed out $110 million in WAMs showered on everything from youth baseball to jazz festivals and fire departments. WAMs are generally reviled as a blatant means of buying votes with public dollars. But what makes the appearance of WAMs in recent budgets all the more offensive is summed up by Marc Levy at AP, “PA Lawmakers tapped grants while deficits grew.”