Legislative grant program must go

To the editor:
In the last month, East Providence legislators including Representative Joy Hearn have showered $13,000 in legislative grants on the city of East Providence to help renovate a softball field.
Legislative grants come from a state taxpayer-funded slush fund that is appropriated by the Rhode Island General Assembly and disbursed to deserving local groups by legislative leadership via local elected representatives and senators. Last year the grant program topped $2 million. Historically, legislators who are out of favor with leadership receive no grants.
Why should the city of East Providence enjoy a state taxpayer subsidized renovation of a municipal asset?
The political value of these grants is obvious and wrong, and the legislators who land these grants have no compunction against milking these grants for their full political value.
In these troubled economic times where necessary social service program lack needed funding, I am 100 percent certain that the several million dollars expended annually via the legislative grant program can be put to more productive use.
If legislative leadership wants to provide a boost to a candidate’s campaign, let them provide that funding from their own campaign accounts and leave taxpayer funds out of it.
All Rhode Island taxpayers should insist that their elected officials work to eliminate legislative grants and put that $2 million to a better public use than as an incumbency protection program.
Ken Block
Mr. Block is chairman of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island.

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