Oklahoma has too many government employees
November 28, 2011
In an important speech tomorrow at a joint meeting of the Downtown Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions clubs in Oklahoma City, former Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer will discuss a proposal which, if enacted, will help create an economic boom in Oklahoma.
Dr. Laffer, the visionary “Father of Supply-Side Economics” who helped trigger a worldwide tax-cutting movement in the 1980s, will discuss a bold tax-reduction plan which will not require draconian cuts in state government spending. And even the modest cuts it will require should not be difficult, given that Oklahoma government spending is currently at an all-time high (see chart).
Oklahoma’s current spending problem is in part a bureaucratic-overhead problem. According to the latest edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, Oklahoma ranks a depressing 37th out of the 50 states in full-time-equivalent (FTE) public employees as a percent of the population. (Oklahoma should aspire to the #1 spot, which is the state with the fewest public employees as a percent of the population.)
Of course, Oklahoma’s public-sector-employment problem isn’t exactly breaking news. Researchers from Rex Pjesky (“Excess State Employees Harm Oklahoma’s Economy”) to Chris Edwards (“Oklahoma’s Bureaucracy Among the Nation’s Largest”) to Russell Jones (“Oklahoma’s Bureaucratic-Overhead Problem Persists”) to the research affiliate of The State Chamber (“Table 12: State and Local Government Employment”) have consistently pointed to the problem.
Oklahoma government officials often say they’re merely trying to “maintain core services.” But that talking point is wearing thin. What they’re maintaining is bureaucratic overhead—and they’re doing so on the backs of the hardworking taxpayers who elected them to do otherwise.