Illinois state government has 230 programs that provide state funds to nearly 7,000 units of local government in Illinois. The largest 11 programs alone provide more than $13 billion to local governments. The distribution of that money, across the entire state, makes it difficult to hold state and local governments accountable for their spending decisions.
This shell game of government finance is a breeding ground for wasteful spending. From bobbleheads to beach balls, The 2012 Illinois Piglet Book highlights dozens of outrageous examples of wasteful government spending at the local level.
Regardless of the fact that these local governments seem to have enough money to throw around on frivolous giveaways, they continue to push for more state money.
In fact, more than 110 local governments and public agencies in Illinois spent $6 million on lobbying state government in 2009 alone.
This kind of waste is particularly rampant during the aptly named “Springfield Lobbying Day.” During this day, organizations of all types, including local governments, head down to Springfield with their hands out and ask officials for some extra taxpayer cash. The Illinois Association of Park Districts even provides a “how to succeed in lobbying” guide to increase successful lobbying for these types of events. Heaven forbid the bobblehead budget runs dry.
Here are some of the most egregious examples of state and local government waste:
Springfield Park District spent $9,941 for bobbleheads.
Rock Island County paid $20,489 to Swine-time Pig Racing and, in an unrelated expense, spent $1,101 on lipstick tubes. In addition to the $6,250 spent on elephant “consulting,” a service related to the care and management of elephants, waste in Rock Island County has clearly run amok.
The Park District of Oak Park spent $1,761 on rings, tattoos, magnets, bubbles and parade supplies. The park district also spent $173,700 on brochures and $9,163 on website updates. This may seem like a small amount, but tell that to the beneficiaries of Oak Park’s special education program, who are potentially on the chopping block.
Rock Island County spent $19,678 on the Niabi Zoological Society for carousel ride reimbursements.
The Chicago Ridge Park District gave away $18,444 in the following items:
1,000 beach balls
1,000 stadium cups
1,000 chip clips
1,000 water bottles
500 drawstring backpacks
500 tote bags
500 key chains
500 can holders
500 coloring kits
Dundee Township Park District spent $15,500 on the following giveaways:
1,425 water bottles
633 laminated folders
350 two-tone zipper tote bags
288 tumbler mugs
250 grocery tote bags
250 think pink sticky notes
49 sport duffle bags
Glencoe Park District gave away $1,663 in Frisbees and pens. In addition, the district spent $10,000 to replace skate park equipment, $3,000 on synthetic turf for the Frisbee golf course and $8,000 for a jet ski for the loaner program.
DuPage County spent $5,420 for swan storage and goose control from Knox Swan and Dog LLC. Current regulations in Illinois protect Canada geese, something that has led to what many would consider a severe overpopulation, and now local governments have to front the bill for this problem.
DuPage County spent $5,004 on plaques, awards and gold foil stickers from National Engravers, Nameplate and Panel Technology, Award Company America, Ipromoteu and Awarding You.
Madison County spent $4,711 at Motherboard Gifts and More.
The Park District of La Grange spent $4,465 on tattoos, stickers, pet parade giveaways and other giveaways.
Rock Island County spent $3,905 on iPads and accessories for the circuit clerk.
St. Claire County spent $3,600 on Logan Hollow Fish Farm.
Rock Island County spent $2,737 on golf carts and golf cart repairs.
Bartlett Park District gave away $2,723 in the form of a massager, lip balm, mini baskets, give-a-way shirts and parade T-shirts.
Kewanee Park District spent $1,100 on awards and trophies and another $1,500 on fishing derbies.
Springfield Park District paid $759 for stadium cups, $650 for Frisbees, $167 for a disc catcher traveler from Innova Disc Golf.
Madison County spent $1,157 at Nuby’s Steakhouse Inc.
St. Claire County spent $1,047 on The National Shrine of our Lady of the Snows.
Metro East Park and Recreation District gave away $732 in Frisbees, key chains and holiday cards.
Bourbonnais Township Park District gave away $541 in the form of 250 plastic cups and 250 stress baseballs in 2010.
DuPage County spent $296 on poinsettias from the Winfield Flower Shoppe from the General Fund Special Account.
Rock Island County spent $335 at Scenic Signs and Screen Printing for 50 “Private Property” signs.
Rock Island County spent $314 on Croegaert's Great Outdoors for fishing derby prizes, an ice shelter, food and raffle tickets.
Lemont Park District spent $252 on candy and beads.