Tennessee politicians are facing harsh criticism after The Beacon Center released Tennessee’s 2017 “Pork Report.” The report lists multiple examples of government officials using taxpayer dollars to give handouts to politically-connected industries and businesses. The pork added up to a staggering $400 million in taxpayer dollars in a single year.
With many options for the 2017 “Pork of the Year,” the Beacon Center allowed a popular vote to decide the winner, as The Tennessee Star reported.
Coming in first place with 34 percent of the vote was the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development for their Industrial Machinery Tax Credit.
This credit costs $67 million per year, but accomplishes almost nothing for Tennessee taxpayers.
Pitched as a way to help create jobs, the Industrial Machinery Tax Credit has only managed to create 55 jobs, which means that taxpayers are spending $1.2 Million for each job created by the credit. The Beacon Center described the credit in this way:
While we believe corporate welfare is antithetical to capitalism, this example is insulting to every single taxpayer in the state. This handout to big business shows how little the government actually knows about the effectiveness of the “incentive packages” it doles out and should make us examine every single incentive program under a microscope.
Also mentioned in the report was the Nashville Sports Authority, which spent a staggering $95 million dollars, just in Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
This money went to the Titans’ Nissan Stadium, the Predators’ Bridgestone Arena, and the Sounds’ First Tennessee Park, among other venues. Critics contend that sports teams ought to be able to pay for their own stadiums, especially with ticket prices reaching historic heights. The problem of corporate welfare is not new; The Star has also covered a full expose into corporate welfare, which can be found here.
The Beacon Center had this to say about the Nashville Sports Authority:
The practice of subsidizing stadiums with taxpayer money is becoming less and less popular nationwide, yet the city of Nashville seems to have no plans of slowing down. As we start to have a discussion about a new MLS stadium, which will be heavily subsidized by taxpayers, it is time we take a stand and stop this corrupt and unethical practice.
Tennesseans have also spent almost $11 million on the TV Show Nashville, even though it was canceled. Despite the show’s poor ratings, the flow of taxpayer money continued unabated, even after the show had to move from broadcast TV to a cable channel.
Also noteworthy is the $22 million given to LG for a new plant in Clarksville. Per The Beacon Center:
There is nothing like doubling down on the single most embarrassing economic incentive handout in state history, which is exactly what the state did when it gave LG $22.3 million to build a new plant in Clarksville on the site of the old Hemlock Semiconductor plant. As many of you remember, Hemlock was the company that took millions of tax dollars and then never even opened its doors. It’s worth noting that the $22 million that LG is getting from state taxpayers is in addition to the $1.6 million the city of Clarksville and federal government kicked in.
In addition to all of the pork barrel spending on the state and local level (dozens of examples can be found in the Beacon Center’s full report), Tennesseans also have to pay for a large amount of wasteful spending on the federal level.
In a positive development at the national level, the Republican Congress voted this year to maintain the ban on earmarks, which are commonly used for pork barrel spending.
You can read the the Beacon Center’s 2017 Pork Report here:Pork-Report-2017-min