It should be maddening for any tax payer in the country to see how the public dollars are spent wastefully on projects that are not really benefiting the community. Today’s Washington Post story on one such wasteful spending measure shows how badly the lawmakers manage the money, despite the pressure to not do so from the administrations (incl. current and the previous administration ). It explores an obscure federal program established by Congress in 2000 allows tiny airports to draw $150,000 in federal funds every year. The article uses Oklahoma’s Lake Murray State Park Airport as a case study. This issue of wasteful spending takes added importance as the public are nervously watching what’s going to happen with the looming sequestration (scheduled to kick in on March 1) as the country is embroiled in a tough political battle to avoid further slide. Brilliant reporting.
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And a few interesting nuggets from this Washington Post story:
- 88 shown airports, as reported, have no paying customers and no planes are based there. (check the interactive map that shows the airports and the number of flights each one received)
- The airports receive $150,000/year, as the result of a grant program established 13 years ago ~2000, which the post appropriately calls Congress’s golden age of pork)
- The looming sequester crisis would not touch the airport program. FAA allotted Lake Murray about $1,500 for each of its takeoffs and landings.
- In this particular case Lake Murray State Park Airport there is no control tower, no runway lights and also staff to monitor it. So what makes people visit? Mostly for using the rest room facilities and occasionally for golf.
- According to local TV affiliate KOKH Fox 25, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism has tried to shut down Lake Murray State Park Airport for years, but Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) officials say closing the airport would cost Oklahoma taxpayers $184,000. Under FAA guidelines, the airport must stay open for 20 years after the OAC spends money on an improvement project.
- Despite pressures from all corners, the program has remained strikingly difficult for anyone. If it is any surprise, even
Pres. Bush opposed continuing the program but the Tea Party dominated congress decided to continue with it.