Annual Tennessee Pork Report takes swing at government spending - WSMV Channel 4

Annual Tennessee Pork Report takes swing at government spending

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A government watchdog group in Tennessee has spent months going through records to figure out how your government dollars are being spent.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee has released its annual Pork Report and says $609 million of your money was wasted.

The Pork of the Year goes to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development for their highly publicized mispayment of $181 million in unemployment benefits.

"Ultimately, you can't rely on Republicans or Democrats or politicians of any kind to be more frugal with taxpayer money, you have systems in place that prevent them from committing any type of waste, fraud and abuse," said Justin Owen with the Beacon Center.

A lot of people might be excited when TV shows and movies are made in Tennessee, but the bottom line, according to the Beacon Center, is that film incentives are a flop.

Last year, the Tennessee Film Commission spent $4 million on incentives.

"If you look at the economic impact, that's even worse than the anecdotal evidence because we've seen studies from liberal groups and conservative groups across the board who have consistently said that film incentives do not work at boosting the economy. At best, they have a 10 to 30 cent return on the dollar. Nobody in this room would agree to a deal where you give me a dollar and I give you three dimes," Owen said.

State-owned golf courses continue subpar performance, losing $1.9 million last year.

No one was overlooked in the $609 million findings in the report, even local governments.

Many city and county governments slipped into the always dangerous practice of awarding one-bid contracts. This year, there was a long list of contracts that didn't have any competition.

The Putnam County property assessor spent $754 on pens. When asked why by the comptroller, he said it's because he values penmanship.

Critics say what all government should do is value taxpayer money above all.

"Many bureaucrats and elected officials who believe that their grand, good intentions for our money are somehow more worthy than the good intentions we have for our money that we spend as a family. So they don't mind taking it from us, out of family budgets and that's where every dollar that government spends comes from, it comes from our family budgets," said Ben Cunningham with TN Tax Revolt.

The Pork Report also gives government credit, at least when it comes to comptroller Justin Wilson, who they believe has done a great job aggressively auditing government.

Click here to read the full report from the Beacon Center.

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