Watchdog group exposes wasteful spending of Illinois taxpayer money

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 17 at 11:20 PM

 (KMOV) –A taxpayer watchdog group called the” Illinois Policy Institute” exposed the wasteful spending in the state and released a list of where the money is going.

According to the report, more than $2 million was spend to provide cable TV to Illinois inmates, another $750,000 for a new program for government shrubbery and $20,000 was used for pig racing.

One major discovery was the $2.37 million that was spent to build a new 3-D movie theater in Granite City.

The city-owned theater was opened three years ago and created a tax break which the city gave itself in an attempt to save downtown.

Some people look at it and say it’s just another example of misusing taxpayer money. The mayor was not happy that the watchdog group took aim at the theater.

“This theater has been a mainstay for us for the last three years; it’s created a whole new aura in our downtown area.”

The mayor admits Granite City took a gamble in giving itself a tax break to build the theater in a blighted area where no private money would go.

That risk and the money involved, over $2 million, gave the theater a place on the list.

News 4’s Matt Sczensy spoke with a representative with the Illinois Policy Institute in Chicago via Skype.

“The fact of the matter is Illinois taxpayers are tapped out, we’re still suffering from the 2011 income tax hike, so taxpayers don’t have any more room in the budget to fund this type of wasteful spending." 

The mayor said over three years the theater has attracted about 180,000 people and brought in new businesses with a micro-brewery and a coffee shop on the way.

In a state where doors at the capital can cost $600,000, the mayor said he thinks what he did is money well spent. 

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