RALEIGH – When lawmakers put together a budget there are plenty of big ticket items that get the majority of attention, but it’s easy for a lot of relatively small line items to work their way into a $24 billion spending plan. That kind of pork barrel spending is what the team at the Civitas Institute found when they went through the recently passed budget with fine tooth comb.
“The state budget for FY 2018-19 contains nearly 170 line items totaling $30 million that are highly inappropriate or outright pork.
Appropriations directing funding to local pet projects include items such as walking trails, playgrounds, county fairs and highway signs. Moreover, dozens of nonprofit organizations receive direct appropriations in the budget. Make no mistake, these nonprofits perform admirable work. However, it is highly inappropriate – and unfair favoritism – to single out nonprofits for specific appropriations of state tax dollars, instead of having them go through the appropriate grant process.”
That’s $30 million of your tax money being spent on pet projects for lawmakers to ingratiate themselves to voters in an election year. While that figure pales in comparison to the extra $1 billion in spending this budget year, this is money that’s not even dedicated to core government functions, but pure pork instead. So much for fiscal conservatism, or doing things differently than the Democrats.
“Legislative leaders have rightly been criticized for the closed-door, non-transparent process used in crafting the budget. It is plausible to believe that these 166 line items were the result of political horse-trading behind closed doors, which left virtually no time for objections from legislators before the House and Senate voted.
Such a significant number of earmarks, while not adding up to a major percentage of the budget in dollar terms, raises legitimate concerns about political patronage in which representatives direct state funds to local projects in exchange for political support.”
So what kind of horse manure resulted from that horse trading? How about $4,000 to the Greater Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce for A DOG PARK. And that’s the smallest earmark listed. Here is just a sampling of what lawmakers decided to spend your money on:
- $600,000 to upgrade a community health center in Charlotte
- $250,000 to Senior Resources (a non-profit) to renovate a NEW building
- $100,000 to the Town of Wake Forest for a building rehabilitation
- $300,000 in one-time increase to the Grassroots Arts Grant Program (total $3.1 million)
- $180,000 to the High Point Arts Council
- $125,000 for a community art center in the Town of Cornelius
- $500,000 for a park in Dunn
- $500,000 for Eden’s parks and recreation
- $34,618 to the Village of Simpson for landscaping a walking trail
- $300,000 for Yancey County to install lights at a park entrance
- $250,000 to subsidize the sale of fruits and vegetables
- $250,000 to fund the Cleveland County fair
- $100,000 to fund the Stanly County fair
- $1,000,000 for the Polk County Equestrian Cetner
- $500,000 for Cleveland County’s baseball facility
- $10,000 for Harnett County to STUDY THE FEASIBILITY of a community center
It goes on and on like this, bringing the total bacon value to $30,019,068. The items highlighted in bold represent bacon being brought home to leadership’s home district. Apparently the powerful House Rules chairman Rep. David Lewis thinks his home county deserves 10,000 of your tax dollars so they can think about whether a community center is a good idea. Judging by all the pork going to community centers on this list, I’d say it’s a pretty good investment!
Some of the biggest bacon hauls went to leadership districts. Half a million dollars for Cleveland to jazz up a baseball facility for the American Legion World Series. Another half a million for Eden’s parks and rec, and yet another half a million for a park in Dunn (Harnett County).
Is this how you want your tax money spent? Taxpayers deserve better than this. Even with the accomplishments of Republican majorities over the past eight years, it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Check out the full list from Civitas here to see if your representative was able to bring home the bacon or not.