NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research today called on state lawmakers to oppose a $16.9 million fish hatchery contained in the proposed state budget, along with all other pork-barrel spending. Governor Phil Bredesen and House Speaker Kent Williams plan to place the hatchery in Williams’ Carter County district. According to the Bredesen administration, the hatchery would create 22 jobs in the region, which amounts to roughly $768,000 per job.
“Leave it to government to turn $17 million into just a few dozen jobs,” remarked Justin Owen, TCPR’s director of policy. “In reality, this project is about one job: Speaker Kent Williams’ job.”
The fish hatchery is proposed as part of $341 million in “contingency” spending, meaning that the money is contingent upon Congress acting to send the state this additional funding. If approved, the state will spend $16.1 this year to build the hatchery, adding to the $800,000 it has spent on the project already.
“In Tennessee, fish is the new pork,” said Owen. “At a time when people are losing their jobs and the state is hinting at raising taxes, politicians want to dig a big fish pond in Upper East Tennessee. It would be humorous if it weren’t so true.”
The project represents yet another example of wasted taxpayer money at a time when Tennesseans can least afford it. It also encourages other lawmakers to press for their own government-funded projects, driving frivolous spending even higher. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research urges state lawmakers to avoid going down this slippery slope, especially during such a tough economic climate.
“If lawmakers really want to create jobs, they should lower taxes, cut spending, and get out of the way,” Owen said. “Throwing millions of dollars at political pet projects isn’t the answer.”