Commercial Appeal – Lawmakers to parcel out grants

From the article:

When the Tennessee legislature voted last year to allocate $20 million for "community enhancement grants," some critics called it "pork barrel" spending in camouflage.

But 10 of the 22 members of Shelby County’s legislative delegation decided to pool a portion of the grants allotted to their districts and direct $411,666 to six local charitable and governmental programs serving a cross section of county residents.

The grant program was approved on a one-time basis by the 2007 state legislature as one of three measures to return a portion of what was expected to be a revenue surplus to citizens and communities — along with two weekends of no sales tax on clothing and school supplies and a permanent half-cent cut in sales tax on grocery food Jan. 1.

The money can only be used on public safety, educational, cultural and community development activities described in the program’s guidelines. Recipients must submit a detailed accounting of the money to the state comptroller’s office. Money not spent by June 30 must be returned to the state.

The grants are administered by the secretary of state’s office, which screened applications, but legislators’ recommendations were also used in the process.

Margaret Craddock, MIFA executive director, said she and other Memphis agencies will put the state aid to good use. “It is extremely gratifying for all of the nonprofits who are receiving these awards to know that the Shelby County delegation values our roles in the community.”

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