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Illinois Policy Institute: Hardly any waste in Illinois government

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018

* The folks at the Illinois Policy Institute have combed the state budget and have found “$54.2 million in wasteful spending.” They define “waste” as “spending that does not serve a legitimate purpose of government.”

Why is that encouraging news? Because the state budget is $38.5 billion. So, according to the Institute, waste accounts for just 0.14 percent of state spending. Every penny counts, but that’s a pretty darned good ratio, if you ask me.

* Predictably, that’s not how the Institute sees things

A new report highlights waste and pork in Illinois’ budget and its author says it just highlights the slap in the face to Illinois taxpayers.

* The report claims that “$3.6 million on the development of the World Shooting Recreational Complex in Sparta, in addition to $2.6 million on operating costs” is “wasteful.” Not everyone agrees

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said the report is misleading.

“Any report that does not consider all of the economic benefits the shooting complex brings to the southern Illinois region is an incomplete analysis,” Schimpf said. “This report omits any such assessment. At best, it’s shortsighted; at worst, it’s misleading.”

One person’s wasteful spending is another person’s vital economic development tool.

The Institute also claims that all Illinois Arts Council spending is wasteful.

…Adding… This came in Wednesday night and I didn’t see it until Thursday morning…


I saw your post about the Waste Watch report today. For context, this research identified nearly $100 million in wasteful spending in Illinois state and local government, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The fiscal year 2019 state budget accounts for over $81 million of that total, including $54 million in pure waste and $27 million in pork spending, or politically-motivated favors and special projects. The report intentionally excluded the state’s overspending on government worker health insurance, duplicative administration, and inflated pension benefits, choosing to classify them as “structural overspending” though they could easily fit a broader definition of waste.

While you’re obviously right that eliminating these projects wouldn’t balance the budget, that’s no excuse for this kind of spending when the state has $8 billion in unpaid bills, the lowest credit rating in the nation, and just hiked taxes on the average Illinois family by about $730. The other big problem here is transparency. Because there was no time for public comment and debate over this year’s budget, the merits of these projects was left up to a handful of powerful legislative leaders.

Regarding the Sparta World Shooting Complex, many people are defensive of waste and pork that personally benefits them or their region. The intent here is not to say these projects have no merit, but rather that they are not essential government functions and that Illinois cannot afford them given our fiscal crisis. Indeed, if items like the Sparta World Shooting Complex are valuable, people would be willing to pay for them voluntarily and they could be run as private for profit businesses.

Any amount of waste in state government is a slap in the face to taxpayers. Every dollar the government spends comes out of a taxpayer’s pocket first. Academic research has long shown that people are more willing to pay taxes when they see valuable services in return. Meanwhile, polls show: 1) Illinoisans have the lowest level of trust in their elected officials among all 50 states; and, 2) Over half of our residents want to leave the state and taxes are the number one reason. The $100 million in wasteful spending identified in this report helps explain both these polling results.

Adam Schuster
Budget and Tax Research Director
Illinois Policy Institute

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Buford - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:32 pm:

    Would be interested in how that .14 percent compares to other States

  2. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:35 pm:

    Buford, it’s a rounding error on a rounding error.

  3. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    From the same geniuses that brought us the BTIA we now learn that there is only $54 million in wasteful spending? I guess we now know why the Rauner agency chiefs could never find anything in the budget to cut. Yea, this helps his case.

  4. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    Is it just me, or are others hearing something high pitched when you look at the areas where many of the pork projects they identified are located (Morgan Park, Senka Park, Jesse Owens Park, Chatham, Harvey)

  5. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    Well, as per usual with the IPI they couldn’t issue a report without getting a dig in at public employee retirement and healthcare benefits, insinuating that such spending is a “misuse” of funds. However, they have “graciously” set that spending aside for their “report.”

    As for the report, some of the “wasteful” spending they identify they readily admit is funded by specialty license plates. Unless they are advocating diverting that revenue to the general budget, which it appears they are *(which shows their complete cluelessness), cutting that spending doesn’t save the state squat.

    This isn’t a serious report.

  6. - ItsMillerTime - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:45 pm:

    If the IPI of all groups can only find 0.14% of the budget is wastefully spent, it goes to show how damaging their rhetoric by IPI and there ilk is. How many people have been brainwashed into thinking all we need to do is “cut waste” to solve the budget problems? We have all seen the polls when people are asked what they would cut in the budget and most of them say waste.

    No such thing as a simple solution in government

  7. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:47 pm:

    I bet Illinois Policy Institute just loves that headline, Rich.

  8. - Amazing - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    The IPI doesn’t think leasing buildings for 70 years is wasteful?

    The IPI doesn’t think it’s wasteful to lease a $1M building (the DoC headquarters on the east side of Springfield) for more than $3M a year for 40/50/60 years? Does it matter that the landlord is the “kingmaker?”

  9. - Juice - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    Rich, you are incorrect.

    The IPI included all funds (including re-appropriations for capital) to get to their waste number. So it’s more like .05 percent.

  10. - Shemp - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    That’s the best the IPI could come up with? If that’s all they can come up with, then that is indeed a very good ratio. That said, I think there are plenty of policies (procurement, vendor requirement, design, oversight, etc) that drive unnecessary spending as opposed to wasteful programs. That could be near impossible to quantify with any accuracy though.

  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:50 pm:

    The new it agency, DOIT, is a waste

  12. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:54 pm:

    One other thing I just noticed, nowhere in the story does it mention the Guv. Correct me if I am wrong, but 100% of the waste and pork identified was approved by the Rauner administration. Just because a representative gets some pork included in a bill doesn’t mean the Guv has to spend it, right?

    So why no mention of the Guv’s role in all of this?

  13. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:54 pm:

    Don’t worry, they’ll find a whole bunch of wasteful spending when they take another look in a few months.

  14. - BlueDogDem - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:56 pm:

    Wait a cotton picken minute.

  15. - Deadbeat Conservative - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    I couldn’t find waste to include:
    - Returned of awarded grant funds due to negligence, or indifference. - Missing of over $20 mil in fed medical reimbursement funds.
    - Pinstripe Patronage and questionable lease deals.
    - Extra interest payments due to intentional failure to put a budget in place.
    - Creating patronage jobs for folks who don’t need a job (Munger et al)
    - Extra damage repair and cost due to ill-advised deferred maintenance.
    That should easily multiply the IPI’s number. Speaking of “legitimate
    purpose” - where’s IPI’s?

    Also I noticed they count paying down debt as “spending” without reduced interest cost offset.

  16. - Generic Drone - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:00 pm:

    The salaries of BTIA is what I consider wasteful spending.

  17. - Just Saying - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:03 pm:

    Anonymous — “The new it agency, DOIT, is a waste”

    Could you clarify this for us?

  18. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    Was Munger’s salary included in the waste?

    =Would be interested in how that .14 percent compares to other States=

    It would still be .14%. And it isn’t like the IPI is right. It is the opinion of a highly partisan group.

    I think the Arts Council is money very well spent. So the number is probably even smaller than that.

    And it is a fraction of what Rauner said was there.

  19. - I Miss Bentohs - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:16 pm:

    54 mil wasted.
    much more needed for infrastructure and other things.
    we should lower taxes.

    wow it is hard to be a Republican in Illinois when you just want to punch your own people in the arm really hard.

  20. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:28 pm:

    You know what credit card companies call it when they see a 1% loss due to fraud? They call it a good day, so whether it’s 0.14% or 0.05%, it’s a pretty darned small number. And as others have pointed out, it all boils down to what you call “waste.” Useless report.

  21. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:41 pm:

    This is what happens when you have people who have decided that they are right and are convinced that everyone will just naturally agree. Instead of doing the basics of checking your percent as a total spending you just throw it out there thinking it’s obvious that it’s truly a sign of overall wasteful spending.

  22. - TaylorvilleTornado - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:43 pm:

    Must be nice to sit in an office in the Loop and crank garbage like this out for a living.

  23. - Alex Ander - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 4:52 pm:

    The IPI does not see the benefits of that little bit of spending because they look at the budget as a game of checkers and the state is really playing chess.

  24. - Archie Bell - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 5:37 pm:

    We could be driving on dirt roads, closing all prisons, and kicking all verterans out of the veterans homes and it still wouldn’t be good enough for the Illinois Policy Inst. The only thing I can think of is they are at the desperate point of trying to justify their jobs. These people who really accomplish nothing, that live on the donations of others, are desperate to appear relevant.

  25. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 5:47 pm:

    Doesn’t GovJunk count billions of waste that he would cut, but Madigan blocks?

  26. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 6:11 pm:

    I’m assuming the report doesn’t count legitimate spending as waste, even if there is a cheaper way to get the job done? I’m specifically referring to the 7000 local taxing bodies in IL that could be consolidated. If that doesn’t count as “waste”, what does? For example, why do Townships have real estate assessors, when the assessments are done at the county level?

  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 6:44 pm:

    The waste is in the IPI budget.

  28. - Not It - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 7:05 pm:

    If that shooting complex is so beneficial to Sparta than let Sparta pay for it. It has zero wide-ranging uses, unlike the CTA, public universities, or statewide health care programs.

  29. - Ok - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 7:24 pm:

    They really identify only two things as wasteful to make up the bulk of that. The arts council, and all spending on bike lanes and bike paths.

    Spending money on transportation is wasteful? Bike paths that take people off of state roads, reducing the need for more spending on roads?

    This seems like more of an “own the libs” list rather than anything rational.

  30. - Irony at its finest - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 7:37 pm:

    The article was written by Adam Schuster of the IPI. The same Adam Schuster who was a Division Manager at the IL Department of Labor who left abruptly to work at the IPI when part of his hidden salary was about to be released as one of Rauners money hidden shuffle employees. Ah yes, irony at its finest. It’s always the story behind the story that makes a better story….

  31. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 8:38 pm:

    Ok, I have nothing against bike paths for their recreational and other benefits, but the thought that they lessen road damage is about as weak as an IPI report. Trucks cause the lion’s share of road damage, and I’m just not seeing a lot of freight-carrying bikes replacing semi trucks on the state’s bike paths.

  32. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 8:47 pm:

    JS @ 4:03
    Wasn’t my post, but - an entire new agency was created, so there is a huge “management” expense. DoIT has taken basic IT troubleshooting capabilities from staff at other state agencies, and now charges those same agencies for the same troubleshooting services. DoIT has become the IT version of CMS - and is just as incompetent. Seems like there were some expensive training / memberships and shady building leases as well. - and after all that, state computers are still incredibly slow and it can be a challenge to complete a simple task such as printing.

  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 8:51 pm:

    The solution is pretty simple. Let state employees talk to the media. Obviously, potential litigation issues in DHS, DOC, etc. have to remain quiet. However, there is no reason state employees should not exploit the waste and corruption in any state agency - specifically procurement.

  34. - Ok - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 8:59 pm:

    Six… I was talking about congestion (i.e. expansion of roadways), not damage.

    But, damage by cars is still a thing. Not just trucks.

  35. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 9:28 pm:

    Anonymous 8:47- no chance we can fix DoIT (or agency IT) without fixing hiring. It can take 4 months to hire. We’ve had a string of really terrible accountants because the only people left who are looking for a job after 4 months are still looking for a reason. Not as much of a problem with really specialized jobs where qualified employees are looking for a state agency job… but definitely a huge problem for jobs that also exist in the private sector.

  36. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 1:16 am:

    “If that shooting complex is so beneficial to Sparta than let Sparta pay for it.” What happened with the Sparta shooting complex is that Rep. Brandon Phelps and his then henchman NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde traded off the lives of their own members to police unions in a deal with the IL State Police in SB836, then pawned it off to ISRA & NRA members as an “improvement” to their garbage concealed carry bill.

    SB836 extends the Duty to Inform to everyone in the car in a vehicle stop, and allows ambulance personnel to seize your guns, so cops have more excuses to blow away armed citizens like Philando Castile in Minnesota. State police supplied the language, in return the hicks get to sell ammo and guns at Sparta events. Thank God Phelps and Vandermyde are both history.

  37. - Rabid - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 7:49 am:

    IPI thinks prevailing wage has a legitimate purpose, that protects taxpayer money keeping it local and in illinois economy

  38. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 8:25 am:

    According to IPI, just .14 of one percent of GRF spending is “wasteful.”

    So, about a penny-and-a-half of every $100.

    I guess they can shut down. Their work here is done.

    What a laugh riot. There are three names attached to the report. Not one of those deep thinkers understood what they are actually saying?

  39. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 8:34 am:

    Here’s what I know…

    Rauner’s reforms would account for $500+ million or 1.4%…

    IPI now looks and finds $54+ million in “waste, fraud, and abuse”

    The point is… both Rauner and IPI have been peddling a phony narrative about, first, bloat in budgeting is rampant, and getting government leaner is easy with… all the bloated monies that can be eliminated.

    If I’ve learned anything about Raunerism and the IPI… there is little genuine to them both, when political spin needs a phony narrative.

  40. - Publius - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 8:47 am:

    At what point will the press stop covering the IPI’s misleading press releases.

    Unfortunately most IPI followers don’t know what 0.14% means. all they will see is the $54.2 million and think “see there is waste and if we only cut that we could lower our property taxes”, not knowing that the property tax is a local tax

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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