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$300 million of wasteful spending in North Carolina's 2009-10 budget

By Chris Hayes
Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009

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In spite of “crisis” claims, pork still plentiful

Raleigh, NC In spite of House Speaker Joe Hackney’s (D-Orange) bold statement that “there is no pork in this budget” (WRAL 8/4/2009), the Civitas Institute has identified nearly $300 million in questionable appropriations for the fiscal year 2009-10 state budget.

In the midst of a recession and one of the largest budget deficits in state history, lawmakers adopted $1.1 billion in new taxes in order to help balance the budget. Indeed, Hackney declared that, in part, the new taxes “saved public education and its core mission in North Carolina.”

But what else are state leaders “saving”? While higher taxes will inevitably lead to lost jobs, a closer look at the final state budget reveals that the state continues to waste millions of taxpayer dollars for animals, plants, public television, walking trails, tourist attractions and corporate welfare.

A review of budget spending that was not cut during this year’s “budget crisis” should call into question the priorities of Raleigh politicians. Included in the recently-approved spending package is:

  • $1.1 million for the executive aircraft division
  • $10 million to subsidize in-state tuition for out-of-state scholarship athletes
  • $2.9 million for the North Carolina symphony
  • $11.1 million for “tourism, film and sport development”
  • $9.4 million for marine fisheries research
  • $4.7 million for a “special zoo fund,” a “grassroots initiative” sponsored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the “adopt-a-trail” program
  • $8.6 million for the NC Arts Council
  • $1.1 million for the botanical garden at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • $252,000 for the “cemetery commission”
  • $563,000 for the Ergonomics Center at N.C. State
Asks Civitas Institute policy analyst Brian Balfour, “Is it really necessary to destroy private sector jobs via tax hikes in order to finance more than $40 million on museums, art councils and symphonies? In this ‘deepest recession since the great depression,’ is it appropriate for the state to spend $14 million on state-run television and more than a million dollars for state government planes?”

The Civitas Institute’s full list of questionable spending priorities can be found here.

“A little investigation makes it readily apparent that Raleigh lawmakers are more concerned about a budget that protects frivolous ‘wants’ and new, unproven programs than protecting the jobs of its citizens,” concludes Balfour.

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$300 million of wasteful spending in North Carolina's 2009-10 budget