Raleigh, NC – An examination by the Civitas Institute of Golden LEAF’s grant making priorities and history suggests that the organization offers no unique benefits to the State of North Carolina.
Because so many other state agencies and state-funded entities already fund the same causes, the tobacco settlement money could still be spent on the exact same programs as are currently funded by Golden LEAF, even if Golden LEAF didn’t exist.
“It makes little sense for millions of the state’s dollars to be spent on operational costs for a redundant organization headed by political cronies with no accountability to citizens,” said Civitas Policy Analyst Brian Balfour.
Civitas analyzed grant-making programs and funding efforts contained in existing government entities and compared those to the organizational goals of Golden LEAF and found significant overlap in programs and “impact areas.” A list of three overlapping areas is contained in the chart below. The full study examines all of the focus areas of Golden LEAF’s grant making priorities and itemizes the exhaustive list of duplicative effort among other state agencies. See the full study online here.
Golden LEAF is a non-profit organization established in 1999 to receive and disburse one half of North Carolina’s Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funds resulting from a lawsuit filed against the major tobacco manufacturers. The organization has accumulated $732 million in assets (as of June 30, 2008) and receives roughly $70 million in annual revenue from the MSA.
For the two fiscal years 2007 and 2008 alone, Golden LEAF spent a combined $9.3 million on administrative costs and capital outlays. That’s a sizeable amount for an organization that mostly duplicates efforts already addressed by numerous other means.
Golden LEAF made headlines recently when Ruffin Poole resigned from its Board of Directors amid his involvement in the scandals surrounding former Governor Mike Easley.
Concludes Balfour, “The case for allowing Golden LEAF to continue to manage and disburse millions of the state’s dollars is not compelling. Dissolving Golden LEAF will enhance transparency, provide greater accountability over the state’s master settlement agreement funds and streamline government operations while eliminating an unnecessary and redundant organization. Doing so would demonstrate to North Carolina citizens that our state legislators are committed to becoming more responsible stewards of the state’s – and taxpayers – money.”
Golden LEAF “Impact Areas"
• N.C. Dep’t of Commerce partners with 7 economic development regional partners
• Article 3J tax credits, film incentives offered to help create jobs
• Five economic incentive grant/funding programs via Commerce Dep’t
• Appalachian Regional Commission offers grants to “increase job opportunities”
• Two categories of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) (disbursed by state commerce dep’t) are devoted to “job creation”
• N.C. Rural Economic Development Center has three grant programs designed to help job creation
• Six different state funding entities active in funding water and wastewater infrastructure – plus five federal entities
• Four grants/funding programs dedicated to improving public infrastructure via Dep’t of Commerce and Department of Transportation
• Appalachian Regional Commission also offers grants to “develop and improve Appalachia’s infrastructure”
• Three categories of CDBG are devoted to public infrastructure projects
• e-NC Authority is a program funded by the state budget that expands “internet connectivity in underserved areas of the state”
• N.C. Rural Economic Development Center features a grant program labeled the “Economic Infrastructure Program”
• N.C. Department of Commerce (DOC) has 24 local area Workforce Development Boards serving all 100 counties
• DOC has a Commission on Workforce Development whose purpose is to “oversee a comprehensive …system of approximately 49 workforce development programs in 8 state agencies.”
• DOC also has a Division of Workforce Development
• DOC also facilitates the Incumbent Workforce program that provides workforce training
• The NC Dep’t of Labor’s Apprentice and Training Bureau offers a workforce training program
• The N.C. Biotechnology Center features a number of “workforce development activities” – one of which was funded in part by Golden LEAF
• The N.C. Community College system has at least three major workforce training programs as well as the Small Business Center Network that offers “specific training for individual business needs”