Pork Report: TN 'squandered' more than $511 million in 2013

2:58 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR-Nashville) The Beacon Center of Tennessee released its "2013 Pork Report" on Wednesday, which outlined what it's citing as excessive spending, extravagant projects, and government corruption and abuse cases.

The independent, non-profit and nonpartisan research group said state and local governments "squandered" more than $511 million over the past year.

It named Hemolck Semiconductor as it's "Pork of the Year" or biggest offender. The Beacon Center said the largest U.S. polysilicon manufacturing plant has cost federal, state and local taxpayers more than $250 million. According to the report, in February, Hemlock Semiconductor laid off 300 employees at the newly constructed $1.2 billion dollar plant in Clarksville. Later in March, the company said the layoffs would be permanent.

According to the Nashville Business Journal:

  • The state gave $95 million for constructing Hemlock's $1.2 billion plant.
  • Tennessee also gave $6 million for a chemical engineering program at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville to train potential Hemlock employees.
  • Hemlock received a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Montgomery County worth $77.8 million.
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority committed $60.5 million in the form of a grant.

The "Pork Report's" other top offenders include:

  • $73 million in "erroneously paid unemployment benefits, including cash to existing state workers and the deceased."  The group said only $15.3 million of those benefits have been recovered.
  • The group reports the state gave $15.3 million worth of film incentives to the entertainment industry.
  • The state gave $800,000 to update a study to figure out what to do with the vacant Tennessee State Prison.
  • Tennessee spent $235,000 on a beef promotion campaign.
  • A Rockwood city official spent $32,000 to build up an arsenal of guns, ammunition, cameras, clothes, protein powder and testosterone booster.

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