| June 3, 2013

How fast does Oklahoma's state government spend your money?


I’ve lamented before that, just as President Barack Obama is the biggest government spender in world history, Oklahoma’s current political leaders are the biggest government spenders in state history. Indeed, according to the venerable Tax Foundation, Oklahoma led the nation in government-spending growth over the past decade.

Regrettably, despite the best efforts of some lawmakers to hold the line, spending is set to increase more than a quarter-billion dollars in the upcoming fiscal year.

“For the third budget cycle in a row,” says OCPA president Michael Carnuccio, “Republican control of state government has produced increased government spending, no immediate tax cuts for families, and continued earmarks for pet projects.”

As you can see from OCPA's Spend-O-Meter, our state’s political leaders are spending more than $500 per second. How can this spending growth be restrained? OCPA distinguished fellow Andrew Spiropoulos has the answer:

If you believe, as most Oklahomans do, that state government spending is both profligate and frequently ineffectual, you shouldn’t place hope in the prospect of the Legislature cutting wasteful spending. The gravitational force pushing legislators to spend all the available revenue in a year is too strong. Even if our Legislature were inclined to cut spending, it lacks the tools to do it well. Legislatures meeting in short sessions, assisted by skeleton staffs and with the savviest leaders departing due to term limits, don’t possess the institutional capacity necessary to significantly reduce spending.

The only realistic way to control spending is to limit the amount of revenue that comes into government coffers. Moderate annual tax cuts, in years with no revenue shortfall, help to control the amount available to spend.

Given the undeniable reality of concentrated benefits and diffuse costs, this is perhaps the only way to give Oklahoma voters what they want: smaller government.

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