Missouri Tax Dollars Spent at Beauty Salons, Bra Shops, and Donut Bakeries, Review Finds

(Alexandria, VA) -- A review by the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) of an online database listing Missouri's public expenditures found more than $2.4 million of taxpayer money spent for questionable purposes over the past eight years, including purchases made at bakeries, beauty salons, bra stores, coffee shops, and picture-framing galleries, among others. Nearly 7,300 NTU members live and work in Missouri.

"Taxpayers should never be forced to finance bureaucrats' 'I love me' walls of framed awards and photos, nor should residents be shelling out for floral bouquets, beauty treatments, or caffeine fixes," NTU Director of Government Affairs Kristina Rasmussen said. "Clearly, no Missouri politicians could claim with a straight face that all of the fat has been cut out of the state's budget."

NTU pulled expenditure information from the Missouri Accountability Portal (MAP), launched by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in 2007 in order for taxpayers to see where their money is going. The state of Missouri spent $15,482.57 at Ann's Bra Shop from 2000 to 2008 for "professional services" and "clothing supplies." Over the same period, government employees spent more than $1.6 million at coffee shops, $387,210.14 at framing stores, $278,053.46 at florists and nurseries, and $70,849.02 at donut bakeries.

Other dubious expenditures found by NTU include $936.75 spent at The Corsage Shop, $232.00 at Doris' Beauty Shop, $1,651.27 at The Jean Shop, $348.70 at the Budget Rose Shop, $6,964.55 at Susie's Bake Shoppe, and $3,803.00 at the Westside Barber Shop. In 2000, $12.00 was spent at Ann's Hair & Nail Shop for "other professional services." "Twelve dollars was the going rate for a manicure at the time," Rasmussen noted.

"Unfortunately, MAP only goes so far in telling you what was actually behind the expenditures," Rasmussen concluded. "Often, the spending record data will dead-end at 'professional services,' 'supplies,' or 'non-contract purchases.' While it's possible that some of these purchases are fairly innocuous, the name of the vendor alone gives reason for taxpayers to at least question the expense. The next step for MAP should be posting line-item information from purchase receipts on the spending portal. Taxpayers need to see exactly how those funds were spent."

NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: For more information on NTU's transparency efforts, visit www.ntu.org or www.showmethespending.org.