Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello and President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed today announced the elimination of the state’s Community Service Grant program. In its place will be two transparent methods of funding community organizations: itemized budget appropriations and competitive programs administered by state agencies.
“Last month’s Finance Committee hearings confirmed that while many community organizations do valuable work the funding process needed more transparency,” said Speaker Mattiello. “We are eliminating the Community Service Grants program and replacing it with an open process to the meet social service needs throughout our state.”
Under the new process, funding to organizations which fulfill unique public benefits will be listed individually in the state budget, which is scheduled to be considered on Tuesday, June 7, by the House Finance Committee.
In the second component, several state departments will administer competitive funds reserved for specific needs, such as senior services, economic development, education, and the arts.
“In most instances, the grants provided public benefits that cannot be replicated by state agencies,” said Speaker Mattiello. “Today’s reforms subject state grants to heightened scrutiny without depriving the public of important programming.”
In the first component, organizations will submit a formal application to be considered for a direct appropriation.
“We have several nonprofits that serve a unique purpose in our state,” said Speaker Mattiello. “We will continue to appropriate funds to these programs based on their direct public benefit. But from today on, these grants are subject to a formal application process, the heightened scrutiny of being included in the state budget as it is presented to the Finance Committee, and annual review from the Auditor General. Every legislator will have the opportunity to see these grants before the budget is approved and then vote on their merit.”
In the wake of recent events, the Speaker and Senate President also announced limitations on all appropriations as part of the new program. Organizations are prohibited from employing any member of the General Assembly or using any funds for lobbying the Assembly.
In the second component, appropriations will be placed in the budgets of several state departments, which will select the recipients of the funding through a formal application process administered by each department.
“Many grant recipients provide a service that directly advances a specific community or population’s quality of life, such as our seniors and at-risk youth,” said Speaker Mattiello. “Recipients use state grants to leverage other financial resources and achieve a public benefit more efficiently than a state agency. We should embrace and empower these organizations.”