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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Arkansas Americans for Prosperity Five Year Budget Study: Arkansas' Government has a Spending Problem

Bill Smith, Editor: the Arkansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity is to be commended for addressing Big Government Spending and Growth by the State of Arkansas. They have released part one of its anticipated five year government spending overview for the state of Arkansas.

They are also to be commended for making this study fully transparent and available for Arkansans to review online. It is time for Arkansas "Big Government" thinking to be replaced by conservative elected officials that will help reduce the size of government and not promote political agendas and government agendas from either the home front or in Little Rock. It is a fact, that the Democrats have controlled the legislature and most administrative positions in Little Rock for so long that they have established a system of entitlements.

As an aside, consider the juxtaposition of Win Rockefeller's 10 year period of service as Lt Governor and Bill Halter's less than 2 year period of service. Conservative billionaire Winthrop Paul Rockefeller he did what was right and responsible in the office of the Lt Governor. He kept his staff and expenses reasonable and did NOT use his position to advance legislation or constitutional amendments. By comparison, in less than two years, liberal progressive Bill Halter sponsored and promoted the lottery - the most enticing regressive tax on Arkansas' poor which also resulted in more government via an excessively paid lottery commissioners. Also, in less than two years, Halter increased his supportive staff. Now the legislature faced with rising costs and is considering proposed budget cuts for the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

In addressing the study, Teresa Oelke, State Director of AFP-Arkansas, stated, “You hear many elected officials talk about a balanced state budget, but very little is being said of how quickly Arkansas Government is growing and how uncompetitive our taxes are.” The study highlighted the following issues:
  • The Murphy Commission was shocked to find that the state government’s employees grew by 228% from 1965 to 1998.  Yet from 1998 to 2007 the state government has grown by an additional 171% in one-third of the time.
  • Arkansas ranks 12th among states in its debt growth! Arkansas state and local debt works out to an astonishing $4305 owed for every man, woman and child in the state.
  • Arkansas has the highest per capita state tax burden of any state in our region.
  • Arkansas’ individual income tax has a top rate of 7% that kicks in at only $31,000 in income, tallying $2,170 per year or $181 per month!
  • Americans for Prosperity’s five year review shows that total state spending after removing federal funds increased by 10.88%, 6.38%, 8.19%, 5.19% and 6.17%.
  • If Arkansas had practiced “constrained spending” (allowing for inflation and population growth) $5.9 billion dollars would have been available to refund Arkansans taxpayers to create real economic stimulus.
Oelke noted that despite the continued problems with transparency, over-taxation and over-spending all is not lost. “This overview isn’t about what we do wrong, but offers ideas being used in other states to rein in government growth. Arkansas families have been tightening their belts and it’s time for State government to follow their example.”

Former Murphy Commission Member, J. French Hill, who chaired the Murphy Commission Tax Workgroup stated, “All budgets of public and private endeavors require periodic independent review. Such scrutiny often reveals significant opportunities for savings and increased productivity. I commend Americans for Prosperity for undertaking the hard work of a close review. Taxpayers deserve it.”

The Arkansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity goal for Part One of the five year overview of Arkansas State Government spending renews the conversation among citizen leaders and elected officials on how to address excessive across the board government spending increases and the competitiveness of Arkansas’ tax climate. To be released later this year, Part two will be a five year agency by agency review and Part three will be a model budget that puts hard working Arkansas families as the top priority.

The study has been certified by CPA Steven J. Anderson, CPA, MBA; who is a research fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and served under former Gov. Frank Keating in the Oklahoma Office of State Finance. His firm conducts budget reviews across the country for Americans for Prosperity state chapters. The AFP-Arkansas study is available for the public to review on their AFP-Arkansas website.
The Arkansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity is part of a nationwide organization of citizen leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity and to reducing the size and scope of government as the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth and returning government to its constitutional limits. The Arkansas-AFP chapter was chartered in 2009 and actively addressed the impact on Arkansans by the proposed nationalized heath care and cap and trade bills.

Tags: AFP, Americans for Prosperity, Arkansas, Budget, Little Rock To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 12:11 PM - Post Link


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