Taxpayers Fight $10M Gift to Cooking School

      RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – North Carolina violated the state constitution when it promised a culinary school $10 million to move to Charlotte, taxpayers say in Wake County Court.

      Johnson and Wales University charges $22,149 in tuition for this academic year; the school was built in Charlotte at a cost of $82 million, according to the complaint.
In 2002, then-Speaker of the state House Jim Black promised the money to Johnson and Wales University if it moved from Rhode Island to Charlotte; then-Gov. Michael Easley also gave his support. The expenditures, approved in multiple pieces of legislation, came from the One North Carolina Fund, for economic development.
     The two named plaintiffs say the money spent on the cooking school was for private financial benefit and brought no public service. They say the state’s agreement with the university does not guarantee job creation or promise economic growth, as required by the One North Carolina Fund.
     They also complain that the state gave the money to the school without performance criteria, but refused to give grants to the plaintiffs on similar terms.
     The complaint does not state why the plaintiffs sought state funding.
     The plaintiffs, Jason Saine and Donald Reid, are represented by Robert Orr, a long-time Republican who served on the North Carolina Supreme Court for 8 years.
     They want the expenditure, which the school is to receive over 5 years, declared unconstitutional and repaid.

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