This series, entitled “Cut This, Go Home,” will include several budget items that should no longer receive taxpayer funding because they fall well outside the legitimate, core functions of government.
This installment will focus on local projects that should be handled by local governments – if at all – and not paid for with state tax dollars. Such localized projects are often called “pork barrel” projects because they force state taxpayers to finance local projects.
Some items that are local by nature that should be under consideration to be dropped from the state budget include:
- Local library grants: The state budget is scheduled to appropriate $29 million in FY 2015-16 for local public libraries across the state. The House budget plan would add another $10 million in non-recurring funds.
- Grassroots Science Museums: In recent years, these local children’s museums received close to $3 million in taxpayer funds per year, with the current budget allocating $2.2 million in funds to be granted to these local attractions. The House budget plan includes a $300,000 annual increase in this appropriation.
- Grassroots Arts Grant program: The state allocates roughly $2.3 million per year in grant programs that direct state tax dollars to these local museums, which come in addition to the direct state appropriation. The House budget included an increase of $500,000 per year.
- Roanoke Island Festival Park: The state budget allocates more than half a million per year to this local attraction, with the House and Senate budgets both desiring to increase by another $9,000
- Research Triangle Institute Grant: RTI, a private nonprofit, is slated to receive $800,000 this year in the House budget plan for “clean energy” research. International audits have slammed RTI as corrupt, discovering a pattern of fabricating reports and misuse of taxpayer funds.
- Leaders at RTI are richly rewarded, according to news accounts: Three top RTI executives pulled down between $550,000 and $605,000 in 2011. And 32 other RTI employees received compensation of at least $300,000.
- NC Arboretum in Asheville: This local attraction would receive $858,380 in each of the next two years under the House budget proposal.
By no means is this list exhaustive, but it itemizes more than $35 million worth of mostly localized projects that should be funded by local governments – if funded by government at all.