New Year’s Resolutions for Missouri Public Policy: From the Cutting Room Floor
My recent editorial, “New Year’s Resolutions for Missouri Public Policy,” ran in the St. Louis Beacon and the Joplin Globe, and was linked to by Combest.
The following are additional resolutions that didn’t make the final list. I tried to model these after resolutions that individuals commonly make for themselves. I thank my colleagues for their collaboration, and I encourage our Show-Me Daily readers to leave additional resolutions in the comments section.
- Get Out of Debt:
This year, state and local governments in Missouri should resolve to get a handle on their finances. Policymakers can accomplish this by holding off on the pork barrel spending projects and fitting in time for fiscal fitness. Eliminating and reducing debt will have positive fiscal consequences in the future, because the state will not be spending tax monies on interest on debt. Government should resolve to live within its means, as an individual does. There are many policy areas that could save money. For example, school districts could elect against giving superintendents health care for life.
- Eliminate Clutter:
The state government should conduct a top-down, bottom-up review of all state agencies and regulations to eliminate waste, inefficiency, and government intrusion unrelated to public health and safety. To accomplish this, policymakers may pursue public-private partnerships, privatize services, eliminate underperforming programs, etc.
- Get Organized:
The state can take measures to reduce bureaucracy and red tape, especially huge mistakes and oversights in its expenditures. For example, the state government is issuing targeted tax credits too quickly to keep track of them. According to an article from the Associated Press, 56 businesses, nonprofit groups, and individuals in Missouri have failed to meet the mandates of a 2004 state law that requires annual progress reports after receiving tax credits. The state government awarded $2 million in tax credits to a convicted embezzler for a development project in Cape Girardeau. With better organization, scandals like this would be much less likely.
- Find a Job:
The state unemployment rate continues to exceed 9 percent. Missouri would attract a greater number of businesses to the region if it implemented strategies that reduce the cost of doing business in the state. Specific strategies that policymakers can implement are: eliminating personal and corporate income taxes, reducing occupational licensing requirements, and eliminating property tax surcharges.
- Lose Weight:
Just as individuals need to lose weight to remain fit and healthy, cities and other taxing districts need to save money by cutting out the fat whenever possible in order to remain fiscally sound. Policymakers in Missouri should take steps to limit this growth. Individual governments in Missouri can share resources, consider consolidation or disincorporation when appropriate, and contract with private service providers as much as possible. Individuals make the tough choices to eat less for better health. Taxing districts can make those same hard decisions to outsource, privatize, consolidate, or share services in order to perform key public services at as low a cost as possible. (Hat tip: David Stokes!)
- Spend More Time With the Kids:
Missouri can take measures to improve educational outcomes, such as increasing school choice. A specific strategy that policymakers can implement would be to expand access to charter schools and virtual schools, the latter of which can provide 24-hour education services to meet flexible schedules. It’s important to note that the most successful charter schools lengthen both school hours and the school year in order to help students catch up with their peers in other schools. (Hat tip: John Payne!)
- Quit Smoking:
Even staunch environmentalists now understand that the total carbon emissions from the use of ethanol are worse than the emissions from the fuel that ethanol replaces. Energy specialists recognize that it takes more energy to produce a unit of ethanol than the energy that unit returns. It’s bad for your health, your wallet, and the environment. It’s time for the state of Missouri to quit subsidizing, mandating, and abusing this substance.
- Travel Less:
Gov. Jay Nixon has the habit of holding ribbon-cutting ceremonies for subsidized projects around the state, and then billing the expenses to other agencies. These travel expenditures come at the expense of other programs because they compete for the agencies’ services. Taxpayers in Missouri would be better off if they weren’t footing the bill for these trips, because they could keep a greater proportion of their earnings. (Hat tip: Audrey Spalding!)
- Spend More Time With Family and Friends:
Just as an individual resolves to “Spend more time with family and friends,” a state government can resolve to increase the level of civil society interaction in Missouri through privatization. Instead of seeing government employees take care of your water utility, or going to a government-sponsored health clinic, we can interact with members of our community that we choose to do business with privately. This resolution could also describe hanging out with a family member or friend while they African-braid your hair or examine your horse’s teeth, even though they do not have a license.