Golden Leaf Foundation President Dan Gerlach has his work cut out for him. House Minority Leader Paul Stam said this morning that he wants to redirect the foundation’s $80 million annual payment from the national tobacco settlement to the state’s General Fund.
And it’s not just Stam on Golden Leaf’s case. Democratic Senator Dan Clodfelter has introduced legislation that would suspend the payments to the foundation for three years and send the money to the General Fund to help address the state budget shortfall.
Golden Leaf makes economic development grants to local agencies and nonprofits in counties that were dependent on the tobacco industry for jobs and economic activity.
Stam and Clodfelter point out that redirecting the money would not prevent the foundation from making grants using its prinicpal that totalled more than $700 million in the summer of 2008.
Clodfelter’s bill includes a lot of “whereas clauses” to support his proposal, the last of one which may be the toughest for Golden Leaf supporters to counter.
…in the view of the severe budget shortfalls now existing…the contribution of $70 million annually…should be of lesser priority that it has been in past years.”