Tester bill rescinds unused, unwanted 2003 earmark, uses money to pay down debt

Burns earmark for Kalispell area secured before 2007 transparency reform

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced a bill in the Senate to rescind an unused 2003 earmark and instead use the $578,000 to help pay down the national debt.

Former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns set aside the nearly $600,000 for sewer improvements in the unincorporated community of Evergreen, Mont., near Kalispell.  After the earmark was announced in 2003, the Associated Press reported the “Evergreen Sewer District didn’t ask for it and officials don’t know what to use the expected windfall for.” 

The report called the earmark an “unexpected Christmas gift.”

Last fall, the Evergreen Water and Sewer District said it wanted to return the money.  But only Congress can officially rescind a previously approved earmark.

Tester’s bill essentially “tears up a check that was never cashed,” requiring the Evergreen money to instead be used to pay down the national debt.

Burns’ 2003 earmark was secured four years before Tester helped pass a sweeping ethics overhaul which brought transparency to the earmark process.  The new process prohibits earmarks that are anonymously inserted into legislation with no accountability or opportunity for debate.

“This is a holdover from the era of earmarks with no accountability, and Montanans deserve better than letting unwanted, unused funding go to waste,” Tester said.  “The folks in Evergreen are trying to do the right thing, and I’m proud to team up with them to help pay down the national debt.”

A copy of Tester’s legislation is available on his website, HERE.