Mon., April 15, 2013 5:08pm (EDT)

Georgia Seeks Earmark Exemption
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 1 year ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Jack Kingston spoke at Armstrong Atlantic State University about veterans benefits.  He also was asked about harbor deepening, gun control and North Korea by members of the press. (photo US House of Representatives)
Jack Kingston spoke at Armstrong Atlantic State University about veterans benefits. He also was asked about harbor deepening, gun control and North Korea by members of the press. (photo US House of Representatives)
Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston says even if Georgia wanted to pay for Savannah harbor deepening on its own, the state would need Congressional authorization.

It's still a federal project that has to play by federal rules.

Fourteen years ago, Congress authorized the harbor deepening as a $240 million project.

But in the meantime, the cost has increased to more than $600 million, largely because of projects required to offset environmental damage.

Savannah Republican Jack Kingston says, even if Georgia lawmakers decided to have the state pay more of the cost, they'd still need Congress to approve the larger amount.

"We have to get that adjusted and it's called an earmark," Kingston says. "And so we want the President to amend his budget to authorize it so that it would not be considered an earmark."

Kingston says the higher budget would have to be approved under a section of a water resources bill.

"Unless we can get the Section 902 increase that would allow the project to go higher than the original cost then even the state can't move forward," Kingston says.

Congressional Republicans have pledged not to use earmarks, which increase the federal budget beyond amounts requested by the White House.

In his budget released last week, President Obama asked for about $1.2 million for harbor deepening, a tiny fraction of the amount Georgia officials were counting on.