Property taxes are rising, state income taxes are higher, unemployment is nearly 9 percent and local governments are supposedly cash-strapped. Schools are cutting programs, and police and fire pensions are crowding out spending on core local services. Yet local governments continue to waste the money of hardworking Illinoisans.
Each year local governments in Illinois make payments for a wide range of services, which may be necessary and justifiable – or frivolous and wasteful.
Many of these payments may be small in the eyes of government, but they are considerable amounts to the average Illinois family, which saw its state income tax bill climb by $1,500 in 2011.
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.
In this shell game of government spending, much of the waste and abuse goes unnoticed. Rock Island County, for example, paid $20,489 to Swine-time Pig Racing, a company that specializes in pig racing.