NASHVILLE — Almost 4,000 applicants are seeking a total of $172 million from a $20 million "community enhancement grant" fund set up by the state Legislature earlier this year, according to a tally Monday by Secretary of State Riley Darnell's office.
"Obviously, most people are going to be left short and they probably are not going to be happy," said Darnell. "But the Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, has spoken."
Lawmakers decided earlier this year to include $20 million in the state budget for distribution to charitable causes, granting Darnell the discretion to decide who gets the money.
The move was a compromise. Some lawmakers wanted to allow each of the 99 House members to earmark $100,000 in grants to his or her district while allowing each of the 33 senators to allocate $300,000. Others criticized such lawmaker-dictated grants as "pork barrel."