Community service grants – but not, notably, legislative grants – have been cut back, with some becoming line items in the budget. Speaker Mattiello has outlined the criteria for an organization or project to receive a community service grant.
“If the service could be duplicated somewhere else or it wasn’t significant enough, we just deleted it,” House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Wednesday afternoon. “We tried to discern which ones were addressing a compelling need, a unique need that was not being addressed anywhere else in state government.”
Accordingly, how to explain this grant when so many worthy causes lost their grant?
One obscure community-service grant was also added to the list: $200,000 for a drainage restoration project on Elliot Avenue in North Providence. It was not immediately clear why this project was funded when so much else wasn’t, but the town has at least one powerful advocate in the General Assembly: Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio represents North Providence.
So this grant does not appear to fit the speaker’s criteria. Perhaps, however, the award of this grant has inadvertently revealed an unstated grant criteria: that of the political pull of the grant requester. Dominick Ruggerio is not only the Senate Majority Leader but is employed by New England Laborers. It appears that politics have largely but not entirely been removed from the doling out of community service grants. (Not to be confused with the legislative grant program, which was left completely intact, both in amount and criteria: 100% politics.)