Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst
Ready for a weekend of entertainment? Start by cruising around a shopping festival on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Then get some exercise on the eco-friendly, customized ziplines built by Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour Inc. in Williamson County. If that’s not enough, hit the wrestling matches at the Dual Meet Nationals in Springfield. Won’t be able to make it? That’s too bad, because the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, or DCEO, already paid the taxpayer’s share.
Providing entertainment may seem like a far cry from an essential government service, but not in Illinois.
Here’s the problem: when the DCEO provides this luxury to one town, other towns also want government-funded entertainment. The whole process creates a race to grab taxpayer dollars.
The 2012 Illinois Piglet Book highlights more than a dozen examples of taxpayer-funded entertainment. Some big-ticket items include a $5 million film studio and a $400,000 multipurpose trail in the city of O’Fallon.
- $4 million to the Springfield Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority to cover a portion of the costs associated with the renovation and expansion of the Prairie Capital Convention Center (Springfield).
- $900,000 to the city of East Moline for capital improvements to the Jacobs Northeast Park Sports Complex (East Moline).
- $200,000 to the Art Institute of Chicago for the “Matisse and the Methods of Modern Construction” exhibit (Chicago).
- $200,000 to the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture to host and promote the 2010 Great Performers of Illinois event in Millennium Park (Chicago).
- $200,000 to Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour Inc. for the development of “eco-friendly, customized zip lines” (village of Energy).
- $175,000 to the Wheaton Park District to purchase and construct two restrooms on Arrowhead Golf Club’s golf course (Wheaton).
- $150,000 to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to construct a scenic overlook (Wheaton).
- $142,221 to the Kankakee County Convention Center and Visitors Bureau to promote the countywide service area as a travel destination (Kankakee).
- $132,000 to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for promotional marketing material for agritourism, bike trails, antique art and golf trails (Carbondale).
- $124,720 to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority of Navy Pier to host the Lego Kid Fest Chicago at McCormick Place (Chicago).
- $75,000 to Chicago Football Classic Inc. for a three-day event that included the Chicago Football Classic game at Soldier Field (Chicago).