| June 4, 2012

Why are Oklahoma policymakers funding NCSL?

One of the most disappointing aspects of the embarrassing debacle that was the 2012 legislative session was the growth in government spending. As my colleague Jonathan Small told The Wall Street Journal, “We didn’t get a tax cut because the Republicans decided they’d rather spend the money.”

It’s troubling enough when lawmakers spend money on programs that are merely wasteful or duplicative. What’s worse is doing what Oklahoma lawmakers have been doing for years: giving tax dollars to a big-government lobbying organization, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Fortunately, NCSL is starting to receive heightened scrutiny. As Mike Flynn points out today (‘Meet NCSL: The Taxpayer-Funded Lobby for Expanding Government’), NCSL has “leveraged support from labor unions, leftist foundations, and rent-seeking corporations, combined with taxpayer support from every state, to lobby to expand the role of government in our lives.”

While it provides some technical training for legislative staff across the country, NCSL’s most important work is in drafting hundreds of “policy positions” on virtually every issue touched by the federal government. These are crafted by state legislators and staff, with significant input from unions, corporations, and interest groups. NCSL staff use these “positions” to try to shape federal legislation. While NCSL strives to appear bipartisan, virtually all of its positions have a leftist tilt. It generally opposes federal legislation that imposes a conservative policy, e.g., tort reform, and supports legislation that imposes liberal policies, e.g., health care mandates. In 2009, it shrugged off its bipartisan veneer and came out strongly in support of ObamaCare and the “public option” for health insurance. And, you paid for it.

As OCPA has pointed out, it makes no sense for Oklahoma’s center-right policymakers to be funding NCSL.

Brandon Dutcher can be reached at or

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