NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center has released its “recipe book” themed Tennessee Pork Report, revealing hundreds of millions of dollars in government waste, fraud, and abuse. Examples in this year’s report range from Governor Lee’s “Tennessee on Me” initiative that gave out-of-state tourists tax dollars to visit select Tennessee cities to the billion-dollar taxpayer handout for Ford to move to the West Tennessee Megasite, a previous Pork Reportentry.
This year’s infamous Pork of the Year “winner” was Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). MNPS entered into an $18 million no-bid contract with Meharry Medical College Ventures which produced a $1.8 million website with all the visual appeal and functionality of AskJeeves.com. Experts say this website should have cost no more than $75,000. What makes matters worse is that the contract is so vague that it’s impossible to know how much extra money was wasted on this useless website under “maintenance.” As if the no-bid contract and lighting tax dollars on fire weren’t bad enough, at the same time the city of Nashville decided to shut down schools because in-person learning was too dangerous due to COVID, MNPS partnered with the YMCA to have…in-person learning for children of Metro School employees and students from K-5th grade.
Other 2021 Pork Report entries included: • $702 million government-owned broadband plan in Knoxville, despite 98% of Knoxville residents having multiple choices in broadband internet.
• A $20 million (and counting) taxpayer gift to build a waterpark in Jackson.
• Davidson’s County continued “emissions testing” tax grab that was deemed unnecessary by both the state legislature and the EPA.
• Hamilton County’s $16 million purchase of nearly 2,200 acres to turn into a manufacturing hub, yet only about one-third of the land is ready for development.
“From no-bid contracts in Nashville to giving away kayaks in Johnson City, there is no shortage of government waste and abuse in this year’s Pork Report,” said Beacon Vice President of Strategy and Communications Mark Cunningham. “While this report is meant to be lighthearted, it’s important to highlight how the state and local governments have misused and abused our tax dollars this year and shows that government waste is a bipartisan problem.”
The 2021 Pork Report comes from state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars. You can read the full report below.BCN_PR_2021_WEB-Pages