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Entries in Cost (3)

Saturday
Jan192013

Inauguration to Cost Millions But Total Price Tag Unclear

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- How much will all the inaugural events cost? It's hard to say.

While most events that occur in the capital have a hard-and-fast budget, the inauguration's many moving parts, safety concerns and large geographic reach make it hard to quantify – especially before the main event.

In 2009, ABC reported the total cost of Obama's first inauguration was $170 million. While incumbent presidents historically spend less on a second inauguration, it's unclear what the total bill will be this time around. Analysis of some of the known appropriations so far puts the total at $13.637 million, but it will no doubt be a much larger price tag when everything is accounted for.

One of the main chunks missing from this year's tab is the budget for the Presidential Inaugural Committee – the group responsible for using donated money to put together this year's celebrations, including National Day of Service, the Kids' Inaugural Concert, the Parade and the Inaugural Balls.

In 2009, the PIC collected more than $53 million in donations, according to a report filed with the Federal Elections Commission 90 days after the inauguration.

While enthusiasm for the inauguration was running higher that year, it is possible the PIC will haul in more money this time around, as they have eliminated some of the self-imposed regulations on the kinds of donations they can accept. For his first inauguration, President Obama did not take money from corporations or gifts that exceeded $50,000.

In 2013, his committee did away with those rules. PIC spokesman Brent Colburn would not say why the change took place, insisting that each committee operates independently from the precedent set by the inaugurations before – even if staff like Colburn are repeats on the committee from 2009.

The PIC also won't say how much they have already collected or even what their goal was. Colburn explained that these are "moving budgets," which won't stabilize until after the inauguration.

They have, however, released the names of donors on their website weekly. As of Friday afternoon, they were up to 993 donors.

Another leg of the costs is covered by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. They take care of the swearing-in ceremony and the Congressional luncheon. For those events they have a total budget of $1.237 million, down by about $163,000 from 2009. Whereas the PIC budget comes from donations, the American taxpayers foot the bill for the JCCIC.

Beyond those two inauguration-focused groups, there are a myriad of broader organizations that spend money on the inauguration as well.

A Congressional Research Service report from December says the government spent $22 million reimbursing local and state governments and the National Park Service for their participation in the 2009 inauguration, but that figure is low. The D.C. government alone received twice that amount, according to the mayor's office. Officials from D.C., Maryland and Virginia estimated their total need to be $75 million.

NPS got an appropriation from Congress of $1.2 million so far this year, according to communications officer Carol Johnson, and another $1.4 million went to the U.S. Park Police.

Where will that money go? All over the nation's capital city – from security to snow removal in a chilly year to porta-potty inspection to first aid tents.

"We ensure the safety of our visitors, and we protect the natural and cultural resources of the park lands that belong to the American public," Johnson said.

This year they have more than 600 park employees and volunteers coming in for Inauguration Day.

The U.S. Secret Service is another important and costly piece of the puzzle.

For security reasons, the Secret Service, Metropolitan Police, DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services and other security groups do not divulge cost figures prior to Inauguration day.

But because Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano designated the 2013 Inauguration a National Special Security Event – in keeping with past inaugurations – the funding for the Secret Service comes from a special pot. The Secret Service has a budget of $19.307 million for all NSSEs for the fiscal year, according to the CRS report, so their costs will be a fraction of that amount.

Security for ticketed events like the Inaugural Balls comes out of the PIC's budget, because they are considered private events, according to the CRS report.

The report lists funding set aside for the District of Columbia to cover inauguration-related costs this year at $9.8 million. In 2009, the District was reimbursed more than $44 million, including a $9.54 million FEMA grant authorized by President Bush prior to the event, according to reports by the Executive Office of the Mayor and the National Capital Region.

That broke down to $24.25 million for the MPD, almost $5 million for the Department of Real Estate Services and $2.5 million for DC Fire and EMS.

FEMS Battalion Chief Brian Lee said his organization provides "emergency medical care, safety and security to the public and dignitaries" during inaugural events and that doing that requires extra personnel and equipment.

On Inauguration Day, Washington Metro Area Transit Authority will be essential for those heading into the city for the ceremonies. They did not have cost estimates available at the time of publishing.

During the 2009 Inauguration Day, Metro set the all-time record for most ridership – providing service for more than 1.54 million trips that day.

One exorbitant cost has already drawn attention in the District; the mayor's viewing stand, from which D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will watch the Inaugural Parade, cost $342,000 to build. The banner above it reads, "A More Perfect Union Must Include Full Democracy in DC."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Resignation Could Cost Taxpayers $5.1 Million

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Jesse Jackson Jr.’s resignation from the House could cost Illinois taxpayers more than $5.1 million, according to the state elections board.

Jackson, Jr. offered his resignation Wednesday to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Jackson has been absent from the Capitol for months while undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic. In addition, his use of campaign funds is being investigated by federal authorities.

Looking at two special House elections held in Illinois in recent years — those to replace GOP House speaker Denny Hastert and Democratic congressman Rahm Emanuel — the Illinois State Board of Elections calculated those elections cost $2,700 to $4,000 per precinct. With 590 precincts in Jackson’s 2nd Congressional District, an election would probably cost around $2,575,000, the state board told ABC News.

Illinois will hold two special elections to replace Jackson, a primary and a general, and the state board projects that replacing Jackson could cost $5.15 million total.

That’s just a projection, and it assumes that the 2nd Congressional District will hold the special elections on their own days. State law will likely allow for the primary, but not the general, to be held alongside already-scheduled votes for state and local offices.

Jackson hasn’t officially won re-election yet, as the state won’t certify election results until Dec. 2. Officials are unsure of whether that will affect how Gov. Pat Quinn handles Jackson’s resignation, an official with the state elections board said. Jackson handily defeated Republican lawyer Brian Woodworth with 63 percent of the vote, according to the still-unofficial results.

Quinn, a Democrat, must set a special-election date within five days, under Illinois law. The election must be held in the 115 days after that.

Jackson may have cost taxpayers extra by resigning so suddenly.

To save money, the 2nd District could hold its special election on Illinois’ consolidated election schedule at the same time as lesser races throughout the state.

But that doesn’t seem possible under Illinois’s statutory special-election timeline. Illinois primaries will happen Feb. 26, but the April 9 general-election date falls outside the 115-day special-election range. Counting Thursday as day 1, March 21 is the earliest the 2nd District special election could be held.

Had Jackson waited until Dec. 15 to resign, Quinn could have scheduled the general special election for April 9, along with Illinois’ other general elections.

The cost of the special elections will be borne by the counties in Jackson’s district, as well as by the state.

Holding a statewide special election to replace governor Rod Blagojevich cost the state between $90 million and $100 million, according to estimates, the state elections board said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec012010

Is Federal Government Meddling into Schools with Child Nutrition Bill?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives Wednesday delayed a vote on the $4.5-billion child nutrition bill that would ban greasy food and sugary soft drinks from schools. The legislation has triggered criticism for its hefty price tag and new nutritional requirements that some say shouldn't come from the federal government.

The bill is expected to be brought up later this week.

The legislation has the support of the White House and first lady Michelle Obama, who has made childhood obesity a central focus.

The Senate bill, which passed with unanimous bipartisan consent in August, would expand eligibility for school lunch programs, establish nutrition standards for all school meals, and encourage schools to use locally produced food. It would also raise the reimbursement rate to six cents per meal, marking the first time in over 30 years that Congress has increased funding for school lunch programs.

But not everyone is warming up to the idea. House Republicans and three educational groups charge that the bill is too burdensome for schools and doesn't provide sufficient resources to cover costs that schools will have to incur.

Critics also question whether the federal government should be the one setting standards on what schools can or cannot serve.

Republicans have questioned the hefty price tag of the bill, which would be paid in part by cuts to the federal food stamp program. At a time when there are a myriad of other issues to be dealt with in the nation's education system, and the deficit is at record levels, some have questioned the timing of the bill's passage.

Those who are objecting to the bill also say it will add to school's costs.

But supporters say that getting rid of junk food in vending machines is actually good for schools. If they sell more lunch meals, they will get more federal dollars. And Democrats counter that the benefits outweigh the costs in the long term.

"Some folks will say, 'how can we afford this bill at the moment?'" Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "How can we afford not to pass it? Leaving millions of children hungry and malnourished now in the name of budget cutting is penny wise and pound foolish."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio