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Pork report: Bill Lee tourism initiative, MNPS no bid contract hit top rankings

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Posted at 11:24 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 12:37:45-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Beacon Center of Tennessee provided its report of what it considered extraneous spending projects this year by government entities throughout the state.

Dubbed the "pork report," the conservative center included initiatives such as Gov. Bill Lee's Tennessee on Me campaign and Metro Nashville Public Schools paying $18 million to a no-bid contract with Meharry Medical College. This is the 16th year of the report.

"From no-bid contracts in Nashville to giving away kayaks in Johnson City, there is no shortage of government waste and abuse in this year's Pork Report," Beacon vice president of strategy and communications Mark Cunningham said. "While this report is meant to be lighthearted, it's important to highlight how the state and local governments have misused and abused our tax dollars this year and shows that government waste is a bipartisan problem."

The Tennessee on Me program was an incentive program for out-of-state visitors to buy hotel rooms in participating cities and then the state provides a $250 voucher for airfare. Even this summer, the idea received push back from many community members and politicians across the state. Some believed it was a waste of taxpayer money when hospitality businesses had fully reopened.

Likewise, the multi-million dollar contract aimed at getting kids back in the classroom drew criticism from some parents and at least one Metro Nashville council person. The Beacon Center report found it an egregious use of taxpayer money, it stated.

"Taxpayers need answers on why MNPS didn’t accept other bids, who was overseeing this contract, who signed the contract, and why taxpayers got such a raw deal" the report stated. "This is either one of the most obvious examples of government incompetence in Pork Report history or straight up fraud."

Other pork report nominees:

  • $702 million government-owned broadband plan in Knoxville, despite 98% of Knoxville residents having multiple choices in broadband internet.
  • A $20 million (and counting) taxpayer gift to build a waterpark in Jackson.
  • Davidson's County continued "emissions testing" tax grab that was deemed unnecessary by both the state legislature and the EPA.
  • Hamilton County's $16 million purchase of nearly 2,200 acres to turn into a manufacturing hub, yet only about one-third of the land is ready for development.