A check presentation to Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders. Photo Credit: Provided
Former NBA player John Starks of Stamford met kids at the Bridgeport YMCA to teach them about the importance of reading. Starks was joined at this event by a former mayor and former lieutenant governor. Photo Credit: Cablevision Power to Learn

Despite Tight Fiscal Year, State Legislators Pack Budget With Millions In Pork-Barrel Projects

School Booster Clubs, Boy Scout Troops, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs and other youth programs are happy this week as more details of the Connecticut state budget were released.

That's because the $43 billion state budget -- as approved June 3 by the House by a vote of 86-45 -- is loaded with so-called pork-barrel member items. They're named pork because they are popular local projects that help guarantee votes for elected legislators back in their home districts. 

More than $9.4 million is scheduled to be doled out. The lucky recipients also include art programs, churches, sports leagues, cultural groups and police youth programs.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Republican from Derby, said, “I can’t explain it except to say this is the regular course of business for Democrats in the majority."

However, this may mark a record year in Capitol handouts, according to Klarides. She criticized Gov. Ned Lamont for promising a tight, responsible, gimmick-free budget “that probably has more pork projects than we have ever seen.”

Here is a sampling of pork-barrel grants:

  • -- Bethel High School Booster Club, $33,000
  • -- Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, $40,000
  • -- Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley -Ansonia Branch, $50,000
  • -- Bridgeport YMCA, $15,000
  • -- Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders, $130,000
  • -- Buddy Jordan Foundation of Bridgeport, $45,000
  • -- Danbury Youth Services, $33,000
  • -- Greater Bridgeport OIC - Program East End NRZ Popup Market & Cafe, $20,000
  • -- Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Church in Bridgeport, $25,000
  • -- Green Village Initiative in Bridgeport, $25,000
  • -- HERO Project Inc. (Heroin and Opiate Awareness), $33,000
  • -- McGivney Center, $20,000
  • -- Project Music in Stamford, $25,000
  • -- Project Overcome Inc., $20,000
  • -- Serving All Vessels Equally (SAVE) in South Norwalk, $55,000
  • -- Stratford Police Department Youth Development, $10,000
  • -- Village Initiative Project (VIP), $100,000
  • -- In other special funding: the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield, $52,000 per year for two years; the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, $50,000 per year for two years; and the Women’s Business Development Council in Stamford, $450,000 per year for two years.

Daily Voice readers can search for their own local pork projects by looking at pages 42 through 47 in the state budget document here, as well as attached below as a PDF.

More than $6 million in grants over the next two years will be funded out of the Judicial Department for Youth Services Prevention. 

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat from Berlin, said the projects all reflect priorities that Democrats have emphasized for years, including economic development, environmental and agricultural preservation, and youth services.

See Attachment