Beacon Center Calls Out TN Government For Chronic Misuse Of Taxpayer Dollars

The Beacon Center of Tennessee has released its 2020 Report, aptly titled “Twelve Days of Pork“.   

The report outlines solutions to many problems facing our state such as corporate welfare, business tax burdens, rising taxes, the misuse of taxpayer dollars, excessive government growth, and lack of data available to the public regarding government spending. 

According to the report, Beacon has long fought corporate welfare, where governments lavish a few chosen big businesses with massive handouts that other small businesses aren’t fortunate enough to receive…all at the expense of taxpayers.  

“We’ll continue that quest until the government stops picking winners and losers,” the report states. 

Tennessee’s main corporate welfare program is called FastTrack.  Some recipients of taxpayer funds this year have included Autozone, Accenture and Pringles.  The State has given companies like these over $39.6 million dollars this year while in the midst of the major budget crunch due to COVID-19. 

Beacon suggests repealing the FastTrack program and focusing taxpayer funds on “economic development that works for all, like education, workforce development, and infrastructure.” 

Beacon also calls for the state government to end corporate welfare deals and reduce overall tax burdens for businesses of all sizes. 

The report calls out Mayor John Cooper and the Nashville City Council for pushing the 34% property tax increase that is universally opposed by those not in government.   

“Cooper and the city council seem hell-bent on making sure Nashville’s growth comes to a screeching halt so that we end up like another Chicago.” 

Instead of raising property taxes, Beacon suggests reforming the City’s pension system, reforming healthcare and post-employment benefits, rightsizing the government workforce, renegotiating and reigning in corporate welfare deals, and enacting a spending cap. 

Did you know that your tax dollars help fund sports stadiums, zoos, film projects and art? 

Basic solution to ease taxpayer burden: Stop government funding of any kind and allow things of this nature to seek alternate funding.  

In a year when thousands of Tennesseans have lost their job and many more are scared of their economic situation, Shelby County Commissioners agreed to a freeze on new hires and promotions.  But, after only a month, it was back to business as usual.   

“Our leaders need to remember that they are charged to be stewards of taxpayer money, not treat it like monopoly money.” 

Beacon offers a solution for Shelby County “cut unessential services and enact a spending cap tied to economic growth to curb excessive government growth. ” 

But don’t think for a minute that the Nashville-based Beacon Center would forget the Scenic City of Chattanooga. 

In Chattanooga this year, city auditors discovered that city officials might need to keep closer tabs on the gadgets that they’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars to have.  

Way back in 2013, the city purchased over $6 million worth of new street lights from Global Green Lighting (GGL), but according to City Auditor Stan Sewell in an interview with the Chattanoogan, “The lighting project…was never fully implemented and the city no longer has possession of the light fixtures.”  

When auditors, in 2018, went to the warehouse that was supposedly storing these lights to get an inventory, they were nowhere to be found.  

After consulting another employee in the warehouse building, it was discovered that $5.59 million worth of lights were picked up from the warehouse by the CEO of the company who sold the lights to them in the first place.  

After a city employee unlocked the warehouse for the team from GGL to enter, they left, leaving non-government employees alone to reclaim the government-paid-for lights.  

The Washington Post says “Democracy dies in darkness.” So too does our trust in our elected officials and bureaucrats. 

Beacon says that governments should increase detailed and public budget reporting in cities so taxpayers know how their dollars are being used…or not used. 

These are just a few highlights from the full report.  Be sure to read it all…but be sure you’ve saved up your appetite for a healthy serving of Pork.   

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