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Watchdog group slams Ramsey's $500,000 'handout' to help build country music museum

June 26th, 2012 1:16 pm by Hank Hayes

Watchdog group slams Ramsey's $500,000 'handout' to help build country music museum

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

Tennessee’s $500,000 appropriation to help build a “Birthplace of Country Music” museum in Bristol, Va., was cited as an example of wasteful government spending in the 2012 “Pork Report” released Tuesday by the Nashville-based Beacon Center.

The Beacon Center called the appropriation a “handout” served up by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, a frequent critic of government waste.

“According to Ramsey and other legislative proponents, the taxpayer subsidy will pay off handsomely, with at least a $13 return for every dollar spent,” the report said. “Such claims that taxpayer-funded tourism leads to a direct benefit are dubious as they are plentiful...To his credit, Ramsey points out the museum will be a stone’s throw away from Tennessee, but it nonetheless shows taxpayer waste doesn’t stop at the border.”

The report also took issue with $1.5 million spent on a mansion and furnishings by the head of the Upper Cumberland Development District; $1.5 million in “corporate welfare” given to General Motors; $266,000 to a second car company, Volkswagen, to construct a massive sign atop its Chattanooga plant, visible only from the air; and a $1.3 million loss on state-owned golf courses.

“This year, state and local governments didn't hold back when spending taxpayers’ money,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen.

“From taxpayer-funded tourist traps, one of which isn’t even in our state, to corporate welfare for massive companies, politicians went hog wild with Tennesseans’ tax dollars.”

The seventh report said state and local governments across Tennessee wasted $468 million over the past year.
An electronic version of the report can be found at: www.beacontn.org.

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