Budget & Tax
Jonathan Small | November 13, 2014
With State Spending at an All-Time High, Its Time to Right-Size Government
In 2015, it’s time for policymakers to get serious about “right-sizing” government.
Consider the following. Total state tax collections have increased by $1.7 billion since their low point in the recent recession. The Oklahoma Tax Commission reports that the state will set another record for tax revenues by the completion of the current fiscal year. Even in the area of education, the state Department of Education reports that total common education available revenues are the largest yet.
As I noted in a February editorial in The Oklahoman: “According to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), the most recent fiscal year (FY 2013) set records for total spending. From FY 2003 to FY 2013, total state spending increased by $6.37 billion, or 59.75 percent. This outpaced, over the same period, inflation (27 percent), state population growth (9 percent), and state personal income growth (39 percent).”
Oklahoma policymakers still spend millions of dollars on targeted earmarks (such as rodeos, golf courses, aquariums, and other non-essentials), hundreds of millions on inefficient health care programs (even though bipartisan solutions abound), and hundreds of millions on non-instructional K-12 activities in public schools.
Across Oklahoma, families are faced with rising health insurance deductibles and out-of-control medical costs, rising food prices, out-of-control higher education costs, and numerous other financial pressures. This year there will be Oklahomans who are forced into debt to pay medical bills or cover other necessities. Government shouldn’t take from these more than what is absolutely necessary to perform core functions.
OCPA’s proposed annual budget—“a state budget that respects your family budget”—demonstrates how waste and inefficiencies could be eliminated, saving more than $1.7 billion over the next three years. That’s money which can be reallocated to core government functions and to the taxpayers who earned it.
Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.