The Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania is starting a new campaign to banish WAMs (Walking Around Money) from the General Assembly, much like some members of Congress are attempting to end earmarks in DC.
WAMs are discretionary funds hidden in the state budget under vague line items like the Opportunity Grant Program. Basically, it’s a big pot of money that lawmakers dole our for pet projects. Like earmarks, these funds are sometimes used by legislative leaders to
bribe encourage members to go along with large spending bills. Governor-elect Tom Corbett has already vocalized his opposition to the practice.
Pennsylvania taxpayers spend upwards of $100 million each year on WAMs, including $66 million in WAMs we’ve identifed that were eliminated in 2009 (in a “no-Wam budget”) and put back in 2010. WAMs have been used to buy 19 Oreck vacuum cleaners for former Senator Vince Fumo, give Nintendo Wiis and big screen TVs tolocal senior centers, and hand out $23 million to Rep. Dwight Evans’ favorite non-profit, Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp., to purchase a night club. (Evans was recently ousted as Democrat chair on the Appropriations Committee, in part for his use of these discretionary funds).