For an ostensibly conservative Republican majority, leading lawmakers sure did give a lot of some people’s money away to other people in this year’s budget. Of course, each item of the millions in total pork barrel spending was predicated on one community’s or entity’s ‘need’ for something, and the taxpayers ‘ability’ to shell it out.
Not sure that’s how Republican leadership is supposed to work…
From the Raleigh News & Observer:
The tiny coastal community of Cedar Point, 2.2 square miles at the southern tip of Carteret County, home to about 1,315 people, is hankering for more commercial development. The legislature gave the town a huge lift toward that dream in the form of $700,000 in state taxpayer money, a grant for economic development that exceeded Cedar Point’s annual budget.
“We are desperate for businesses to come into our area,” said Rep. Pat McElraft, a Carteret Republican.
Legislators set aside about $3 million in downtown revitalization and economic development money for Cedar Point and about 45 other towns from the state budget this year. Much of it is going to rural crossroads with populations of a few hundred to a few thousand, but some bigger towns are in on the money, too.
In the state budget this year, legislators handed out millions of dollars in grants to towns, individual schools, county fairs, local libraries, little museums, nonprofit groups and for-profit companies. These grants are called “member money” in the halls of the legislature. They’re also known as pork.
Legislators requested downtown money, said House Speaker Tim Moore, and he and Senate leader Phil Berger decided who would get it. “Everybody wanted more than they got, including myself,” Moore said.
Kings Mountain, the Cleveland County town where Moore lives, is getting $100,000 in economic development money. Shelby, the Cleveland County seat, is getting $50,000.
Berger had a different take on how downtown grants were decided after legislators put in their requests, and his explanation didn’t involve he and Moore getting together to divvy up the money. “The final decision on whether or not anything was in the budget was based on whether or not the budget was going to garner enough votes to pass,” Berger said.
The budget has items that wouldn’t be in it if the decisions were entirely up to him, Berger said, but he supports the budget as a whole.
The state is bringing in more tax revenue than expected, he said, and grants to nonprofits won’t obligate the state to keep sending them money year after year.
“I think it fits within, overall, our pledge to be fiscally responsible with the people’s money,” he said. […]
Fiscal responsibility now apparently means giving thousands of taxpayer money to a chamber of commerce to build a dog park.
Read more here.