I’m Paying For What?!?
Apparently I’m paying for the Burrillville-Glocester Youth Soccer Association. Excellent, can my child play there? Or how about the Elmwood Little League, where do I sign up? There’s also the History Warren Armory, I’ve helped pay for that. Maybe I’ll stop by the Richmond Community Center for some afternoon activities. And when I’m sick, I’ll stop by the Block Island Medical Services. I’m helping to pay for all of those things, as well as a whole lot more. And so are you. If you pay taxes to Rhode Island, a portion of your money goes to these things through legislative grants.
If you’re not familiar with legislative grants, here’s generally how they work. Our legislators put in a request for an amount of money, from a few hundred dollars to as much as $25,000. Those requests go to the heads of the respective sides of the Assembly. House Speaker Fox and Senate President Paiva-Weed sit in sole judgement of who gets the pieces of their pie. The lucky legislators are then able to appear in the local newspaper with a large game-show type check for an organization in their district.
To see exactly who got what, you can see it here: House | Senate
Many of us have been hitting on this for a while now. A few years ago, the House Republicans took a vow to never request any legislative grant money out of protest for the system by which the applications are accepted: behind closed doors. Additionally, when cuts were being made to the state budget for the developmentally disabled a couple years ago, Republicans offered to restore those funds, taking the money from the legislative grant program. Of course, that suggestion was denied by the Speaker and Senate President.
The entire budget is a couple million dollars for all of these little checks. But it wasn’t an unreasonable question when retirees were asking why their pension was getting cut at the same time that legislators were smiling with their $1,000 check for the local Little League.
Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block put out his own press release today about his disgust over an East Providence State Rep being “proud” of handing out a $500 grant to a town youth softball team.
If the local youth leagues are coming up short of money and they need the extra $1,000, how about they raise rates. How much is that per registration? $4? Maybe five?
In my town, my property tax dollars go to pay for our Senior Community Center. Why do I have to pay for Centers in other towns too? Apparently, those towns don’t budget or appropriate enough money to pay for them.
Where’s the accountability? How are the decisions being made?
If the Speaker is serious with the promises he made in his letter to get this state moving again and get us back to the top, then this program should clearly be one of the very first things to cut. What do you say leaders? Is it time yet that you agree the legislative grants process needs to go?