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Illinois Policy Institute: Just 1.6 percent of state spending is “waste and pork”

Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019

* Illinois Policy Institute

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly went on a spending spree at the end of the recent legislative session, including a $40.6 billion operating budget out of balance by as much as $1.3 billion, a $45 billion capital plan to be partially funded through $20.6 billion of new bond debt and 21 new taxes that will take $4.7 billion from the pockets of Illinois taxpayers.

Pritzker has defended tax and fee hikes as necessary to repair “bridges and roads and highways” that are “falling apart.”

But in both the operating budget and the capital plan, Illinoisans are now obligated for spending that takes a lot of imagination to define as “necessary,” including at least $1.4 billion in waste and pork projects. Included in that tab are dog parks, snowmobile paths, pickleball courts, school playgrounds, swimming pools, arts grants to be handed out by the wife of House Speaker Mike Madigan and much more.

We’ve already talked about their $1.3 billion claim. Still not buying it.

And I think people could agree to disagree on whether some of this spending is waste or pork.

* For instance, here’s their waste in the operating budget

$40.7 million for the development of bicycle, snowmobile, pedestrian and other recreational paths and trails
$17.3 million for outdoor recreation programs
$13.5 million for the Illinois Arts Council, an organization chaired by Madigan’s wife

Either way, 1.6 percent is pretty darned low.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:10 am:

    ==spending that takes a lot of imagination to define as “necessary,” including at least $1.4 billion in waste and pork projects. Included in that tab are dog parks, … school playgrounds, …==

    IPI: “You’re kids playground at school is a waste of money”. Lol, definitely go with that argument, IL republicans. I’m sure it’ll get you a bunch of suburban female votes in 2020, telling them their kids’ school playground is pork

  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:10 am:

    ==For instance, here’s their waste in the operating budget==

    I never liked the idea that recreation and sports and art were some type of inferior, wasteful entities because they don’t put food on the table. A healthy society needs recreation, sports and the arts.

    And the arts do put food on the table if you take the long view. People are still taking tours to see the Sistine Chapel. Some trinket salesman or busboy is making money on the tourists.

  3. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    Oh hell no you didn’t just go after my
    Pickleball court.
    I guess I’m just going to have
    to out IPI privatization and no bid pork
    via Zigmund on….

  4. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    ===Included in that tab are dog parks, snowmobile paths, pickleball courts, school playgrounds, swimming pools===

    “The Illinois Policy Institute; We Take the Fun out of Illinois”

    This is delicious…

    ===…arts grants to be handed out by the wife of House Speaker Mike Madigan and much more.===

    If they weren’t handed out by Mike Madigan’s wife, would the IPI be cool with that?

    Here’s the reality the IPI wants you to ignore.


    The 1.6% is in there so all the people of Illinois to have well-rounded opportunities; art, leisure, sport… an opportunity for a culture to embrace what makes us all… human.

    The IPI isn’t just a “fun-sucker”… they want to ensure opportunities for a culture to be more than a dollar amount in a ledger are not possible.


  5. - Simple Simon - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    Waste and pork are two different things, but you can only get to $1.5B if you add them together.

    Waste is ghost payrolling, inflated pricing due to no bid contracts, lucrative leases to store files, etc. Pork is a useful thing that most locals have to pay for themselves, rather than paid by the state.

    It takes hard work to find waste, which is why IPI will never find any.

  6. - don the legend - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    Remember how IPI railed against “Rauner’s millions more to lease than purchase” deal for the Barney’s furniture warehouse property.

    Me neither.

  7. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    To a credit card company, 1% of out-and-out fraud is a *good* day.

  8. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:31 am:

    Senior citizens remain the best demographic for conservatives, but that might change in a hurry if you go after their pickleball.

  9. - Sayitaintso - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    If the 1.6% is even close to being accurate, I’m impressed. I’ve always considered it a lowball at 10%.

  10. - AnonymousOne - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:45 am:

    When I see IPI all I think is Negative Nancy. Everything’s wrong with everything.

  11. - Montrose - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    How dare the state invest in the public recreational infrastructure used by Illinoisans! The free market will take care of all of that.

  12. - Mason - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    As far as snowmobile trails are concerned they come from snowmobile registration dollars that, unless you are registering a snowmobile, the general public pays no part of. Half of those registration dollars go into a grant program that volunteer clubs can apply for to maintain and developed new trails, and the other half goes to the DNR to enforce snowmobile laws. It DOES NOT come from any of the gas tax or the general fund, snowmobilers pay their own way, and to link it with the governors irresponsible spending is irresponsible of the author. This appropriation just allows the clubs to apply for their registration dollars back.

  13. - Springfield Westsider - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    “1.6% of state spending is waste and pork”

    So then…all of the gaslighting by IPI the past 4 years….was for nothing? 1.6% is a minuscule amount in the larger sense

  14. - Snowman61 - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    Regarding Snowmobile projects, the funds are from a dedicated fund that are funded by a percentage of snowmobile registration fees, not from the gas tax or any other tax dollars. Grants are awarded by the DNR to volunteer snowmobile clubs and government agencies to developed new trails and maintain existing trails. In addition, a percentage of the registration fees are included in the DNR budget to administer the grant program and to provide funds to enforce snowmobile laws. Yes it is a small amount of the overall budget but it is more of a user fee. By the way, the dedicated funds have been swept several times to help balance the budget and monies were not available for grants.

  15. - Nobody Asked Me - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    Quarter million-dollar tractors for snowmobile “trails” that supposedly sit in a barn for all but 4 days a year seems a little unnecessary, but nobody asked me.

  16. - Snowman - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    Well when it’s your money you can decide that but they are necessary for the maintenance before during and after season for snowmobilers, and it is their money so they get to decide

  17. - benniefly2 - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    “Included in that tab are dog parks, snowmobile paths, pickleball courts, school playgrounds, swimming pools…”

    So IPI is officially against dogs and children. I can’t say that I am surprised.

  18. - Funny that - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    Funny that when Rauner opened up an expansion of state park land for 4-wheelers and snowmobiling, these IPI droids were all cheering that it was terrific. What a difference an election makes, I guess.

  19. - Nonbeliever - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    Reluctant to say it but if this is all true then IPI is making some very good points. among other items listed are the following:

    $98 million for “noise abatement” at the Chicago Belt Railway Yard in Bedford Park, which happens to be in the suburban portion of Madigan’s district.
    Another $50 million for the Illinois Arts Council chaired by Madigan’s wife
    $50 million for capital grants to parks and recreational units for improvements such as pickleball courts
    $15 million to the Chicago Park District to build a field house at Jackie Robinson Park
    $14 million for a grant to Rush University Medical Center
    Another $8 million for bike paths and pedestrian trails on top of the amount allocated in the operating budget
    $5.2 million for construction, upgrades or improvements at 36 playgrounds throughout the state
    $5 million to Northwestern University for the purchase of science equipment

    No matter how you cut it that is a lot of money.

    Yes, many of these expenditure are unwaranted considering the existing taxes in Illinois (just got my property tax bill) as well as the huge backlog of unpaid bills. And one way or another all of this is a bill that is given to the taxpayers.

  20. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:47 pm:

    ===unwaranted considering the existing taxes in Illinois (just got my property tax bill)===

    Um, if the state is building a local structure, that means your town won’t have to do it.

  21. - Nonbeliever - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:52 pm:

    - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:47 pm:

    ===unwaranted considering the existing taxes in Illinois (just got my property tax bill)===

    Um, if the state is building a local structure, that means your town won’t have to do it.”

    And your point? Perhaps it was not vitally important (whatever local structure you are referring to) in the first place. Or just a very low priority. Particularly withe the states’ finances.

    You seem to be falling into the ‘local pork projects’ group. Plenty of them in both parties.

  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    ===falling into the ‘local pork projects’ group===

    Nah. I just don’t see everything as pork. Arts funding is hugely important, for instance.

  23. - Nonbeliever - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:56 pm:


    Justify whatever you want. I stand by my original post.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    - Nonbeliever -

    1.6% of a budget for items making Illinois a more well-rounded and fun place where a lack of space to make Illinois more attractive to live… is waste?

    That’s fun.

  25. - Ok - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 1:03 pm:

    Given the dearth of sidewalks in many parts of this state, I would say that this type of spending is more like pork-prevention…

  26. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 1:28 pm:

    Northwestern’s endowment is $11 billion dollars and yet they need $5M from the state for science equipment?

  27. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 1:32 pm:

    ==many of these expenditure are unwaranted==

    Maybe to you. I doubt it is to the people who will benefit from the spending. You really think purchasing science equipment is unwarranted?

    ==Justify whatever you want. ==

    It will never be justified to people like you.

  28. - Alex Ander - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    I’m not a waste fan myself, but bicycle infrastructure is a good idea. Especially in bigger towns where people can commute to work on bike and decongest the roads a little bit.

  29. - illinois_citizen - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    That is a lot of money I don’t care who you are.

  30. - CEA - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:53 pm:

    Gee, an organization whose sole purpose is easing the pain of the very wealthy thinks that parks and recreation for the common folk are “waste.” Color me surprised.

  31. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:25 pm:

    =Um, if the state is building a local structure, that means your town won’t have to do it.”

    And your point?=

    The point is that your property taxes are local. The State of Illinois does not have a property tax. If your municipality, school district, park district has to spend the money, *then* your property taxes go up. If the State pays instead, they don’t have to.

  32. - DanP - Wednesday, Jul 10, 19 @ 6:22 am:

    Surely funding anything which gets people active, like Pickleball, swimming pools and kids playgrounds, is a no brainer. Keep people healthy.

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