It sounds odd to hear me praising McClatchy, but they’ve done some bang-up work pointing out the waste in the NC Rural Center and making a case for its closure. It’s too bad the conservative revolution in Raleigh didn’t beat them to the punch.
Well, state auditor Beth Wood has produced a report confirming what a messy money pit the Rural Center IS and HAS BEEN. Gov. Pat and Senate president pro tem Phil Berger took that as a cue to start bashing that state agency. Top officials resigned, and Gov. Pat has called for state money meant for severance payments be frozen.
Don’t just freeze the money. Zero that sucker out of the state budget completely. Budget negotiations are currently taking place.
And don’t stop with the Rural Center. Put the One North Carolina Fund under the microscope as well. The state Department of Commerce-operated program hands out cash — corporate welfare — to companies looking to relocate or expand in North Carolina. If you talk to local economic development officials, they will tell you privately that there is ONE MAJOR RULE regarding grants from the ONF. That rule is the governor must be the first to announce any grant awards. If news of the grant award and / or expansion or relocation leaks out before the governor’s office can announce it,. the grant gets cancelled. (This happened more than once under Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Bev Perdue.)
So, the ONF’s main purpose would appear to be fueling a PR opportunity for the sitting governor. Ponying up some cash to help a business setting up shop or expanding in the state is a distant second.