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Earmarks are always a part of any major federal spending bill, many confuse them with pork barrel spending, but earmarks are important ways to pay for expensive local projects.
 
North Coast Representative Jared Huffman says the federal dollars that may soon make their way back to Northern California are crucial.
 
"They're awards that wouldn't have happened in any other program and allowing, you know what, I guess disparagingly is called earmarks, but we call them community projects, to be in a government funding bill gives me the chance to meet those needs," Huffman said.
 
Huffman said not every award - or community project - jumps off the page with eye-catching dollar amounts, but each one still represents a crucial boost for communities and organizations that may not otherwise be able to come up with needed dollars.
 
"Allowing legislators to kind of survey their district and bring forward proposals that may not fit into the state or federal funding category, but where it can fill a gap and actually be the difference," Huffman said. "That's what this allows us to do. That's how I try to approach it."
 
One of the small ticket items is in Santa Rosa.
 
"$200,000 to the Jewish Community Free Health Clinic in Santa Rosa," Huffman said. "It's money that they need if they're gonna have electronic medical records and become efficient and do their mission, and it's going to make a huge difference to them."
 
A bigger ticket: two million for forest protection in the Trinity Headwaters.
 
"This is going to make possible the acquisition of some land that is sort of a missing piece of protected federal lands in the Trinity Alps area," Huffman said. "It's something that the community supports, everybody supports."
 
There are other local projects set to receive federal funding if and when the federal omnibus spending package passes the Senate and is signed by the President.
 
They include the West County Health Centers - in line for close to one million dollars. As well as the SMART Rail - 1.8 million dollars to help with the long-awaited expansion to Healdsburg and Cloverdale.
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