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Beacon's annual Pork Report reveals millions of dollars in waste, fraud, abuse

KNOXVILLE - This week the Beacon Center released its annual Tennessee Pork Report, revealing millions of dollars in government waste, fraud, and abuse. Examples in this year's report range from Graceland's veiled threats to move out of Memphis which landed the property $75 million in tax dollars, to the nearly-bankrupt city of Nashville giving millions of dollars to Amazon and the NFL draft. This year, the Beacon Center limited the report to the top 25 examples of government waste.

The Pork Report highlights a combination of government mismanagement, incompetence, and outright fraud. The Beacon Center allowed Tennesseans to vote on their choice for the Pork of the Year award. This year's "winner" was the $14.5 million taxpayer-funded upgrade to the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro at the same time city officials raised property taxes by 36%. The city is already losing $150,000 a year on the complex and even by the city's almost certainly inflated projections, it will take 127 years to pay off the debt.

Other Finalists for Pork of the Year included:
• $700,000 in federal and state taxpayer money was spent to build a visitor center at Reelfoot Lake, only to ultimately be torn down because it didn’t meet earthquake requirements
• $1.5 million the city of Nashville was forced to withdraw directly from the school district's budget - without warning - to cover the cost of the TIF program, which gives tax dollars to developers in the city
• Graceland, one of the most notable landmarks in the city of Memphis, threatened to “move” if Memphis didn’t give it $100 million in tax incentives

"From Memphis to Chattanooga and everywhere in between, there continues to be a massive amount of waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the state," said Beacon Vice President of Communications Mark Cunningham. "The cities of Memphis and Nashville continue to 'lead' the state when it comes to wasteful spending. Hopefully, the Pork Report will show taxpayers how inefficiently their money is being spent."

The 2019 Pork Report comes from state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee empowers Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream. The Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee.

Published December 13, 2019

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