Last week, we identified $30 million worth of additions in the FY 2018-19 budget that has been earmarked for special projects – known as pork spending. This is the use of state taxpayer money to fund legislators’ pet projects. A closer look at how the money is being spent shows:
• Durham County received the most pork funding, at $6.5 million split across 3 projects.
• Wake County received funding for 18 special projects, totaling more than $4 million.
• Four additional counties – Wilkes, Polk, Cleveland, and Mecklenburg – received over $1 million each in taxpayer-funded special projects.
• 38 counties received no special funding. These counties represent over 1.7 million North Carolinians.
There were two notable rural counties that received large pork spending amounts. Polk County, represented by Sen. Ralph Hise and Rep. Cody Henson, received $1 million for its Tryon Equestrian Center, which is scheduled to host the World Equestrian Games this September. Cleveland County, represented by House Speaker Tim Moore, is another rural county with over $1 million in pork, having 7 different allocations, including funding for the county fair and a baseball field.
With the November election quickly approaching, it is easy to see why legislators may be feeling pressure to build support with their constituents. But “bringing home the bacon” represents political patronage that forces taxpayers statewide to fund localized, pet projects.
The interactive map below shows the distribution of the 166 earmarks, scroll over a county for the number of projects and total dollar amount.
— Leah Byers