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Earmarks Are Back. What Did Costa and Valadao Deliver?



There is $2 million to rehabilitate the Merced County Courthouse Museum in the $1.5 trillion federal spending bill. (Merced County)
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For the first time since 2011, Congress allowed House members to slip district projects into the government spending bill.

The return to so-called earmarks paid off for the constituents of Reps. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and David Valadao (R-Hanford) when President Biden signed the $1.5 trillion measure on Tuesday.

Republicans had ended the earmarks, saying that they were influenced more by cronyism than need. However, with Democrats controlling the House, earmarks were allowed while under tighter restrictions than in previous eras.

In the House, 2,021 “community projects” totaling $2.5 billion went to Democrats. Republicans had 706 projects approved at a $1.7 billion price tag.

Costa secured more than $11 million for 10 community projects in Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. Valadao meanwhile delivered $13.4 million for six community projects in Tulare, Kings, and Kern counties.

“Bringing federal funding back home is one of my top priorities,” Costa said in a news release. “These projects support underserved areas and foster economic development, making a real difference in local infrastructure and providing more opportunity for folks to get ahead.”

Bill Includes $75 Million for F-35 Hangars at Lemoore NAS

Although not a community project earmark, $75.07 million is in the spending bill for Lemoore Naval Air Station to complete the second phase of a hangar project for F-35C fighter jets.

“I came to Congress to deliver results for the Central Valley, and I’m proud that my work on this year’s annual spending bill includes direct funding for local law enforcement agencies, infrastructure projects, clean water for our communities, and Lemoore Naval Air Station,” said Valado in a news release.

$75.07 million is in the spending bill for Lemoore Naval Air Station to complete the second phase of a hangar project for F-35C fighter jets. (Shutterstock)

Funding for CA-16 Projects

Here is the funding for community projects in Costa’s district:

— $3.5 million to rehabilitate a 50-year-old pipeline carrying wastewater to the city of Madera treatment plant.

— $2 million to rehabilitate the Merced County Courthouse Museum, a community gathering spot and educational resource.

—  $1.9 million for the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation to build a 60,000-square-foot training center in southwest Fresno.

— $950,000 to create a more stable and safe water distribution system in Gustine.

— $625,000 for Madera Unified School District to help about 5,500 English Language Learners catch up on their studies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— $500,000 to study expanding  Los Banos Creek  into a multi-purpose reservoir.

— $475,000 for Fresno City College to collaborate with Fresno State on a program that aims to increase nurse practitioners in the San Joaquin Valley.

—  $475,000 for UCSF Fresno to build an Alzheimer’s Center and Center on Aging to provide clinical services and teach students.

—  $300,000 for Advance Peace Fresno to help prevent gun violence.

— $279,000 for the city of Dos Palos to upgrade its aging water plant.

Funding for CA-21 Projects

Here is the funding for community projects in Valadao’s district:

— 3.04 million to the Earlimart Public Utility District for safe drinking water and greater wastewater collection capacity.

— $3 million to rebuild Mount Whitney Avenue, including curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and storm drains.

— $3 million to rehabilitate 10 miles of the Avenue 95/96 Farm to Market Corridor between Terra Bella and Pixley.

— $3 million to expand the Kern Food Food Bank in Bakersfield.

— $1 million to the Lemoore Police Dispatch Center to improve response times.

— $413,000 to the Kings County Sheriff’s Office for 200 body-worn cameras.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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