Illinois think-tank calls out 'wasteful spending' - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois think-tank calls out 'wasteful spending'

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WSIL -- A new report by the watchdog group, the Illinois Policy Institute, cites more than $80 million in what researchers call "wasteful projects" in Illinois. Three of those projects are in our area, two at SIU Carbondale and one at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta. 

The new report uncovers millions spent on what it calls irresponsible projects or special favors. 

"At a time when taxpayers around the state are tightening their own belts and cutting their own budgets, they might be going to an off-brand cereal or they might be eating out less to make ends meet, state lawmakers are going on a spending spree," said Adam Schuster, Director of Budget and Tax Research for the Illinois Policy Institute.  

Schuster says the institute went through more than 1,200 pages of the 2019 state budget. It found more than $7 million in what it calls 'wasteful spending' in southern Illinois. Taxpayers will fund $3.6 million on "the development of the Sparta world shooting complex" plus $2.6 million for operating costs. 

Senator Paul Schimpf, who represents the area, called the report misleading, and a disappointing attack. Saying "any report that does not consider all the economic benefits of the shooting complex... is an incomplete analysis."

The report also called out SIU projects, including $63,000 for the Daily Egyptian (DE) newspaper. 

"It's not to say that a student newspaper is not valuable, it's just that the state of Illinois can't afford to give at this time. It's a 'nice to have', not a 'need to have'," said Schuster. 

SIU Spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith insists state money is just one piece of the DE's total funding. The university just implemented a new mandatory student fee to help fund the paper, and the paper still makes money from ad sales. 

The group also found the Carbondale campus will receive $2.5 million for renovations of a greenhouse. 

"Their were some other greenhouse renovations in the budget for other universities but this one was by far the most expensive," said Schuster. 

SIU defends the funding, calling the facility critical for instructional use.

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