December 20, 2001
Regula brings home bacon with new role
By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON — Less than a year after he became chairman of one of the most powerful subcommittees in Congress, Rep. Ralph
Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, has used his clout to deliver more than $22 million in special funding to his district and neighboring
“I just put (them) in the bill,” he said of projects that will benefit colleges, universities, museums and other organizations in and near
his 16th congressional district. “And I put in a lot of others (from other districts). We had literally dozens of projects in the bill,
hundreds in fact.”
The funding is contained in a $396 billion appropriations bill that passed the House on Wednesday and is expected to win approval in
the Senate before week’s end. It would then go to President Bush for his signature.
Earlier this year, Regula became chairman of a key appropriations subcommittee that helps determine federal spending on
education, health and human services and labor programs. The panel has the largest budget of all 13 subcommittees within the
House Appropriations Committee.
Being chairman of the subcommittee enabled Regula, who is in his 15th term, to steer more money to his district than most
“The chairman’s where it is,” Regula said. “I don’t deny that.”
Critics call these local projects, earmarked for their districts or states by lawmakers, pork.
“It takes money away from spending that is more objectively determined,” said Thomas Schatz, president of Citizens Against
Government Waste. For example, when lawmakers award grants to educational institutions in their districts, that means there is less
money available for the U.S. Education Department to distribute on a competitive basis.
Regula offers no apologies.
“We don’t do junk,” he said of the projects he funded. “These are things that help people, and I wish I could do more.”
One of the grants provides $200,000 to a YMCA for the development of an after-school program for at-risk students, he said. “Who knows what this means for young people?” he added.
As chairman, Regula not only decided which projects in his district would receive federal aid, he oversaw the financing of projects in
hundreds of other congressional districts across the nation.
“I get letters from almost every member, Republicans that is,” he said. “And Dave Obey (a Wisconsin lawmaker who is ranking
Democrat on the subcommittee) took care of the Democrats. But I get letters from Republican members submitting requests,
usually running in the millions (of dollars). And then we go back and say, ‘What are your top priorities? Which projects do you want
the most?’ And then we do as much as we can with the money available.”
Regula delivered far more federal funding to his district this year than ever before because of his powerful new post. The
subcommittee determines spending for a wide range of programs that benefit people in every part of the nation.
When he was previously chairman of the appropriations interior subcommittee, he held sway over spending at national parks. That
was little help in his largely agricultural and industrial district.
Among the beneficiaries is Malone College in Canton, a Christian liberal arts school that will get $1 million to help build a wellness
While much of the funding in the appropriations bill has been in the works for months, Malone received its award at the last minute.
Ronald Johnson, president of the college, said Regula called him Saturday to “discuss a funding possibility.” Earlier this fall, Johnson
told Regula about the college’s financial needs. When he talked with Regula on Saturday, he suggested the planned wellness center
as a possible beneficiary. The center will house an exercise facility, classrooms and laboratories to benefit students with
health-education majors. Regula agreed it was a good choice.
On Monday, college officials filled out the required federal paperwork. And on Tuesday, Johnson received another call from Regula, this time informing him the project was in the bill.
Regula said he contacted Johnson after discovering that extra money was available. House and Senate negotiators had been
wrangling over differing versions of the appropriations bill until they worked out a compromise Tuesday night.
While the labor, health and human services and education bill totals $396 billion, just $123 billion of that is discretionary money. The rest is reserved for entitlement programs. Of the discretionary funds, lawmakers set aside $800 million for “member projects,” or
funding designated by congressmen and senators.
Other recipients of funding and their awards in Stark County include the Alliance Neighborhood Center, which will get $250,000, and
the YMCA of Central Stark County, to receive $200,000. The grants will support after-school programs for at-risk children.
Stark State College of Technology in Jackson Township will receive almost $2 million to build a health and wellness clinic and
develop a new program to provide training in high technology.
Walsh University in North Canton will receive $1 million for the construction of a specialized biology laboratory.
The Regional Emergency Dispatch Center in Massillon will get $250,000 to build a centrally located facility that will serve more police and fire departments throughout the county.
The earmarks include $1 million for the Stark County Park District to develop programs and exhibits for a new educational center in
In addition, the Military Aviation Preservation Society Air Museum in North Canton will get $500,000 to develop exhibits and displays.
The McKinley Museum in Canton will receive $44,000 to put the McKinley presidential papers on the Internet.