OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Friday, May 05, 2006 :::

On Pork in the Virginia Budget

Some time ago, I broached the topic of budget requests for nonstate agencies in the Virginia budget. It raised a couple of eyebrows here and there, and even earned a moment's notice at last month's Sorensen gathering. But thanks to the inquisitive mind of a reader, here is what Dick Howard had to say about state grants to private charity in his "Commentaries on the Constitution of Virginia":

As to the section's ban on appropriations to private charities, it is arguable that at least some appropriations would be in the public interest.

Private charitable organizations often perform functions that, were they not the subject of private initiative, would surely have to be performed by public bodies at public expense.

A reasonable argument could therefore be made that it is a legitimate use of state money to aid private groups which are in effect carrying out a program having a public purpose.

The commission on constitutional revision recognized the cogency of these arguments. In its view, however, the problem lay in fashioning a constitutional provision which would allow selective and limited appropriations in legitimate cases without opening the floodgates to demand by, and appropriations to, the vast number of private groups that would consider themselves equally entitled to share in the public largesse.

The commission, therefore, thought the prudent course was to leave the prohibition essentially as it was.

Take it from one of the framers: state grants to private nonprofits whose missions falls outside of the amendment are unconstitutional.

Not that the legislature will pay any attention. But hope springs eternal.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 5/05/2006 3 comments


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