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.
Illinois Policy Institute’s Director of Budget and Tax Research Adam Schuster said the think tank’s “Waste Watch” report highlights $91 million in questionable spending.
“Wasteful spending is something that you can say the government should not be spending money on at all, this is not an appropriate thing for the state to be spending money on,” Schuster said. “Pork projects are projects that may be valuable in a different context, if you have a fiscally healthy state.”
Among the spending the report notes: $13.1 million on an arts council chaired by the wife of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, $23.6 million on programs that encourage bike-riding in Illinois and $3.6 million on the development of the World Shooting Recreational Complex in Sparta, in addition to $2.6 million on operating costs.
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.”
Schuster said if it’s so good, it should be able to support itself.
“If it’s valuable, it’s something people would pay for voluntarily and could be run by a private business,” Schuster said. “The question here is when the state has $8 billion in unpaid bills, the lowest credit rating in the nation, and we just saw a tax hike in 2017, whether this is something every taxpayer in the state should be paying for in the state budget.”
Schuster said structural changes are needed to address the $200 billion in unfunded public sector benefit guarantees. While the $91 million may be a drop in that bucket, Schuster said it’s a slap in the face to taxpayers.
“And one of the things that’s driving our out-migration crisis is not just our high tax burden but the fact that people don’t see value for their tax dollars and that they don’t trust their elected officials to be good stewards of public money,” Schuster said.