The teapot museum, the Randy Parton Theatre, the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the “perfect Christmas tree.” What do all of these things have in common?
They have all received grant money from Golden LEAF, the slush fund packed with political cronies. The Civitas Institute has posted its top ten list of most wasteful projects receiving Golden LEAF grant money.
Sitting on $560 million of monies received courtesy of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) resulting from a 1998 lawsuit against several tobacco manufacturers, Golden LEAF has proved itself to be highly redundant, and merely a “political tool.”
Yet during the last two difficult budget years here in North Carolina, Golden LEAF funds have remained untouched. Meanwhile, state budget writers have tapped numerous other trust funds to help fill the budget gap. Why has Golden LEAF money not been targeted? Is MSA money untouchable? Certainly not. The two other funds receiving and disbursing MSA monies (Health and Wellness Trust Fund and the Tobacco Trust Fund) have been tapped for countless millions over the past several years to help balance the state budget.
While school teachers are laid off and care to the elderly is curbed in order to balance the state budget, the organization that finances pirate ship restoration and beekeepers remains fully funded.
It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Golden LEAF’s board of directors is filled with big-money political donors (see pg. 13), would it?