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Waste Watch: Corporate handouts in Tennessee

(MGN/Pictures of Money / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Tennessee taxpayers are shelling out big bucks for what some are calling corporate welfare. Private companies and corporations are taking advantage of tax breaks, incentives and grants to the tune of $3 billion dollars.

This is the future corporate headquarters for Bridgestone Arena. The company got $56 million in incentives to move from one part of the state to another and they're not the only ones cashing in.

Much of Nashville's building boom is being financed with your tax dollars.

"It's a huge waste of taxpayer money," Mark Cunningham, with the Beacon Center says. "Additionally it's not the job of taxpayers to fund private businesses."

According to the Beacon Center, Tennessee taxpayers have shelled out $3 billion to private companies across the state in the last 10 years.

The Beacon Center's new website went online Wednesday and shows you who got the loot.

"The show 'Nashville' got basically $45 million and straight cash from the state and the city to say here's money just film here," Cunningham said. "Bridgestone we gave a lot of money to move from one part of the state to another."

Bridgestone got $56 million in incentives to build its corporate headquarters in downtown Nashville.

City leaders point to big projects like the convention center that are paying off.

"We had 1,128 days since this great facility opened and the economic impact directly has been $1 billion and that means we've been able to benefit from this great facility," Mayor Megan Barry said. "It means 2 million people have come to her town. They spent their dollars here and that's good for Nashville."

Still some say taxpayers are spending too much on big business.

"Everyone says it's creating jobs. If we're paying $5 million for five jobs, is that worth it? Ultimately, I don't even think that's the question a middle-class taxpayer like me, I don't think my money should go to corporations and to rich CEOs, I don't think it should. I should be able to spend my money how I want," Cunningham said.

Click here to see a detailed list of where your tax dollars are being spent.

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