Illinois Republican spending plan packed with millions in waste

Illinois Republican spending plan packed with millions in waste

Despite calls for new taxes from Republican lawmakers, Senate Bill 2216 contains funding for several grants across the state.

On the same day Gov. Bruce Rauner called for a special session to resolve the budget crisis, state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, filed Senate Bill 2216, an appropriations bill containing funding for several grant projects. Brady’s bill comes at the same time as Republicans are pushing a budget with more than $5 billion in tax hikes.

The purpose of these expenditures is to fund capital projects for low-to-middle income residents and small towns to encourage economic growth. However, the bill contains a number of questionable projects.

Take, for instance, a $520,000 grant for the construction of a playground at Mary Lyon Elementary School in Chicago.

Mary Lyon built a brand new playground less than three years ago along with an artificial turf soccer field and other improvements.

Every taxpayer dollar the state spends on one school is a dollar not spent on another school. The question, then, is not whether playgrounds should be built, but whether Mary Lyon especially needs a half-million dollars from Illinois taxpayers.

Another provision in SB 2216, would give Garfield Park athletics $850,000 – $100,000 to the Garfield Park Gators youth football team and $750,000 to the Garfield Park Little League for general infrastructure. No other athletic teams or organizations receive such funding in this appropriations bill.

These are just two of several examples of fiscal mismanagement in SB 2216. Some other questionable appropriations include:

  • $200,000 for a generator in Mount Prospect
  • $750,000 to the Garfield Park Little League
  • $500,000 to the Rauner Family YMCA in Chicago
  • $205,000 to the 8th Ward of Chicago “for decorative street lights”
  • $500,000 to the Progressive Fitness Center
  • $832,000 to the Carter G. Woodson Library in Chicago
  • $50,000 to the Oak Ridge Neighborhood Association in Springfield
  • $75,000 to the Palatine Park District for construction of the Falcon Park Recreation Center

Lawmakers claim to have trimmed spending as much as possible, but a glance at just a portion of this appropriations bill shows more potential savings exists. Rather than raise taxes, Springfield should cut back on wasteful spending. Illinoisans don’t want tax hikes: Nearly two-thirds of likely Illinois voters don’t want an income tax hike as part of the state budget, according to polling conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute. Lawmakers must examine state spending with more scrutiny and eliminate wasteful, misplaced and unfair appropriations.

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