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Top 10 worst examples of state government waste in 2013

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Watchdog,Waste and Fraud,Listicles

Governments across America waste billions of tax dollars each year, but some are better than others at bad spending.

Most Americans are completely used to this. The story of the $150 toilet seat or the $200 hammer no longer shock the public.

Officials want to take money from families and businesses to protect a bridge from bird poop.

Such reports do, however, serve as reminders that too often government officials just don’t care about how it uses taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.

While most of the attention on official waste rightly focuses on the binge-spenders inside the Beltway, it happens in state capitals across the land, too.

There, Watchdog.org reporters find unusual and appalling stories of waste, fraud and abuse that other media outlets ignore.

So, here’s a peek at 10 of the worst examples of government waste from across the states in 2013:

10. Paying more for green

Taxpayers are footing the bill to green a federal building in Minnesota, and the tab isn’t cheap.

“The Whipple project is costing as much as 40 percent more per square foot than a new office building, according to some critics, and we're buying it,” wrote Minnesota Watchdog Tom Steward.

9. Run it

Oregon just can't leave well enough alone. State officials set aside $50,000 to create a pilot project to see if buying walking desks for public workers would improve health outcomes.

8. Home, times two

What to do with two luxury homes just blocks apart? That’s the pressing question weighing on the shoulders of the Nebraska University president because of a little waste in the Cornhusker State.

The university decided to buy its president a $750,000 mansion, even though he already owns one just blocks away.

7. Funding Netroots ninnies

Netroots Nation is a gathering of liberal political activists from across the country. So why did two employees from a county in New Mexico use taxpayer money to attend the shindig?

6. Cosmic car sale

Sure, car companies need to advertise, but do they really need to use taxpayer money to paint the roofs of their factories? Who are they trying to entice with that ad?

5. Let’s get paid

Times are still tight in Oklahoma, but some public employees don't give a rip. At least 10 well-paid higher education employees received 5 percent raises this year, adding on to their six-figure salaries.

4. The cleanest bridge around

This is definitely one of the oddball stories on this list. Lincoln, Nebraska, officials spent at least $600,000 to pigeon-proof a bridge.

Think about that for a second. Officials want to take money from families and businesses to protect a bridge from bird poop.

3. Crime and public service pay

An ex-mayor gets sent to prison for smuggling guns. He serves his time and is released. Thanks to his public service, he has a never-ending income source when he hits the streets -- his taxpayer-funded pension.

2. No, really, crime does pay

Room, board and income? Sounds pretty sweet, right? That's essentially the deal some prisoners received. Wisconsin Reporter found that prisoners in that state received more than $600,000 in unemployment benefits while behind bars.

1. Common sense is dead

Scrubbing a welfare program’s rolls of the ineligible like a good idea, right? Maybe in the rest of the country, but Illinois just doesn’t play that way.

After spending millions of dollars hiring investigators to audit the state’s Medicaid program and those investigators experiencing wild success, the state ended the evaluation and stopped purging people from the program.

Because saving millions and millions of dollars each year just makes too much sense, right?

Dustin Hurst is a reporter for Watchdog.org, which is affiliated with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
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