John Locke crowd is learning: Republican, conservative NOT the same thing.

The John Locke Foundation was quite often the critic of state government when Democrats ran the show.  Though, they got a little sycophantic toward the governing class when the 2010 “conservative revolution” rolled into town and the McCrory era dawned.

Now, it appears some folks over there at JLF are learning the nasty secret that we — and so many others on the right — figured out long ago:  Republicans like to throw around other people’s money TOO:

There’s been a lot written about this year’s state budget, and there will be more. That’s what happens when you’re dealing with a 438-page bill allocating $24 billion. A lot of money, a lot of competing interests, a lot of detail.  

I looked at local government allocations in the budget previously, and it comes to tens of millions of dollars. In June, I questioned many of those grants, writing … “a library here, a museum there, and a park shelter somewhere else add up to real money that could be used for higher-priority areas or returned to taxpayers in the form of lower taxes.”  

But until recently, there was one point I missed. The budget allocates $5.775 million for downtown revitalization projects in the form of 72 distinct grants to rural North Carolina communities. Most of these go to cities or towns; three go to counties; and two, mysteriously, go to unincorporated communities. I’ll leave aside the question about who even administers a grant to an unincorporated community, since there is no mayor or city council.   

*As the mayor of  the unincorporated community of Haymakerville, I want a fair shake for my citizens.  We need parks and schools and major league soccer, too! Where’s my cut?* 

MORE:

My bigger question is this: Should we really be spending nearly six million dollars on this?
When I saw this in the budget, I assumed there was some sort of application process. I figured these cities had gone to the Rural Economic Development Division of the Department of Commerce with proposals for park benches or building refurbishment or water fountains or something.  But then I read a piece in the News & Observer and realized it was even worse than I thought.  

The communities hadn’t asked for the money.  Some didn’t even know it was coming. And they didn’t all have lists of projects for which they’d asked for state help. It was more like, “Surprise! Here’s tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money. Have fun!”  

But don’t worry, came the response from the legislature.  Nelson Dollar, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said, “I don’t know of any community that doesn’t have some sort of project or set of projects that they could use some extra funding for. I’m sure those counties will work with those communities and be able to put those funds towards the appropriate purposes.” 

Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT is YOUR Republican House leadership.

Don’t get me wrong. The budget passed in June isn’t all bad. There are a number of areas in for which legislators should be applauded. But this one doesn’t pass the smell test. How can it be right to hand out grants arbitrarily to communities with the expectation they’ll find good projects to which they can direct the funds? It might be a nice thing to do for friends and family if you unexpectedly inherited a large sum of money, but that’s not what’s going on here.  

The legislature doesn’t spend its own money. It spends our money. It all comes from taxes paid by workers, employers, business owners, homeowners, renters, and consumers. It’s all of us. And when they take that money, they have a responsibility to spend it well, not just hand it out for fun to a few lucky communities.  

So if we had an extra $6 million sitting around, maybe we should have given it back to the taxpayers, the people from whom it was taken in the first place. I don’t doubt worthy projects exist in all of these 72 communities. I’m willing to assume that every last dime will be spent on good projects that will improve the quality of life for people living in those places. But even so, that money with which the legislature decided to be so generous didn’t belong to the government. It was mine and yours and every other North Carolinian’s. And I want it back.

5 comments for “John Locke crowd is learning: Republican, conservative NOT the same thing.

  1. Bob Mason
    August 11, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Only the most worthy legislators consider that they are spending money that belongs to someone else. Too many consider that tax collections become their money.

  2. Jim Cohen
    August 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    The GOP is learning that it is easy to be charitable with other peoples money.

    • john steed
      August 13, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Another blatant example of that is the asinine state law that forces counties to give the Big Solar special interest an EIGHTY PERCENT (80%) exemption on county property taxes. That is making all the hard working individual taxpayers of our counties have to subsidize the property taxes of mostly out of state crony capitalists. The fake Republicans we have in Raleigh should be absolutely ashamed of that taxpayer ripoff.

  3. JT
    August 12, 2017 at 7:50 am

    The problem here is omnibus spending. The bill should be broken apart and voted on piece by piece. Omnibus spending is what allows them to do as little work as possible while blackmailing/extorting votes by putting something in the bill for children or the like. Then if u don’t vote for the entire bill you hate children. If it was taken piece by piece this wouldn’t be possible and the taxpayers would have a lot more money in our pockets.

    In Liberty,

    JT

  4. hair-on-fire
    August 12, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Whether in the Legislature or the Congress, there is NOTHING more disgusting than vote-buying thru unnecessary (or unconstitutional) expenditures of taxpayer monies. After ensuring the safety and security of citizens, this is the single-most important responsibility of an elected official.

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