* 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.
Budget and Tax Research Director
Illinois Policy Institute