Last week the 2012 Illinois Piglet Book was released. I appreciate the efforts made by the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) for all their hard work and dedication on this project. If you have never read the piglet book I encourage you to peruse through a copy. Please go to he following website.
Wasteful spending in Illinois is the major reason why the state has billions of dollars of debt. Overspending and a fondness for borrowing have led to an unsustainable pension liability, a poor credit rating and a stack of unpaid bills. In order to get Illinois back on track to fiscal stability the state needs to implement reforms to cut spending and eliminate wasteful expenditures.
The piglet book outlines 200 wasteful expenditures that must be eliminated in order to ensure taxpayers are provided with services, job growth opportunities and economic prosperity. Among one of the many wasteful expenditures discussed is cable television for Illinois Department of Correction Inmates (IDOC). Currently legislation is being discussed to impose a 5% tax on satellite consumers. The proceeds of the tax are destined for education, but I have received over 500 emails and hundreds of phone calls from constituents outraged over this tax because they want to see a reduction in wasteful spending rather than new taxes.
The state was responsible for paying an IDOC cable bill in the amount of $2,261,009 for charges between July 2010 and June 2012. Appropriating money for an IDOC cable bill for inmates to watch cable television is perhaps a place to save money. After all the prison systems role should be rehabilitation. An inmate’s time is better spent learning a trade skill or studying for a degree. IPI and CAGW indicate that taxpayer cost per inmate in Illinois averages $38,268. This is comparatively high according to other Midwest states: Indiana ($14,823), Missouri ($22,350), Iowa ($32,925) and Wisconsin ($37,994).
According to Illinois Local Education Agency Retrieval Network, “Base of details,” Illinois spends more per inmate ($38,268) than it does per student in K-12 education ($11,663). Priorities seem a bit skewed in an era where prison costs are skyrocketing and the governor’s answer to a budget crunch is the closures of vital prisons and a mental health facility. I understand that a $2 million cable television bill is nothing compared to a $85 billion dollar budget crisis; however those on a budget know if one cuts out the latte every morning, packs a lunch, curbs entertainment spending it can provide a lot of savings.