Taxpayers Fund $1.75 Million Party (& $786 Million Convention Center)

Taxpayers are funding a $1.75 million party to kick-off the grand-opening of the $786 million convention center in Philadelphia, which Pennsylvanians also paid for through an economic development fund.

In the midst of a multi-billion dollar fiscal crunch, lawmakers decided that a priority was a big party to celebrate a taxpayer funded monument.

To ensure the grand-opening gets noticed, Rep. Dwight Evans obtained $1.75 million in walking around money (WAMs) to publicize the event, which the Philadelphia Inquirer reports will be used for parties, receptions, refreshments, decorations, performers, a parade, and hiring an event planner.

For lawmakers looking to cut state spending, this project exemplifies wasteful spending for two reasons. One, the convention center is a taxpayer-funded “economic development project” that competes with the private sector, and does little to improve the state economy. Secondly, the project utilized WAMs (discretionary funds doled out by the legislative leadership). The 2010 state budget included $90 million in WAMs that should be eliminated.