| May 3, 2012

Time to stop funding pork

Following is an excerpt from OCPA’s Proposed State Budget for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2013.

With Oklahoma government spending at an all-time high (see chart), the time has come to set priorities and to exercise spending discipline.

Regardless of revenue levels, lawmakers continue (at times unconstitutionally) to take your money and spend it on good old-fashioned “pork.” For example, in FY-2012 lawmakers took your hard-earned tax dollars and used it to fund the following:

  • A special, politically targeted earmark for the Kiamichi Technology Center - $100,000
  • A special, politically targeted earmark for the Tulsa State Fair - $65,000
  • A special, politically targeted earmark for the National Finals Steer Roping Championship - $25,000
  • Special, politically targeted earmarks for the IPRA National Finals Rodeo - $50,000
  • A special, politically targeted earmark for the Red Earth Festival - $25,000
  • A special, politically targeted earmark for the Summer Arts Institute - $25,000
  • A special, politically targeted earmark for the Jenks Aquarium Exhibits - $40,000

This list is by no means all-inclusive; this is simply what I was able to compile from requests from some state agencies. (I encourage you to do your own sleuthing of government expenditures at, a transparency website developed by OCPA.) For some reason, lawmakers have not provided transparent disclosure of “pork” spending like this in annual appropriation bills, which makes it difficult to locate all of the pork. Citizens should demand that their elected representatives line-item their earmarks. (How exactly does one define “earmark”? Well, as Justice Potter Stewart said in another context, “I know it when I see it.” If a lawmaker is trying to hide it, well, that’s telling.)

When lawmakers and bureaucrats waste taxpayer funds in this manner, it is indicative of a greater problem: a lack of awareness of the solemn duty (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ words) to spend it wisely: “Never take a dollar from a free citizen through the coercion of taxation without a very legitimate purpose. We have a solemn duty to spend that dollar as carefully as possible, because when we took it we diminished that person’s freedom.”

If lawmakers and bureaucrats will waste hundreds of thousands of dollars, lawmakers and bureaucrats will waste millions of dollars or even billions of dollars. It is time to stop wasteful spending, particularly “pork” spending by lawmakers and bureaucrats.

The potential savings from implementing such reforms would be at least $330,000 annually.

Submitted each year by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Inc. to the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma and their elected Officials, the OCPA “Budget Book” is carefully crafted by Fiscal Policy Director Jonathan Small to help lawmakers set priorities and exercise spending discipline while creating a state budget that respects your family budget. Offering unmatched fiscal policy analysis and recommendations, Small draws on his experiences as a former budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, former fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and former director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department to provide perspective on the state budget that you cannot find anywhere else.

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