Another Take on Gov. Nixon’s Speech
I just got done reviewing the governor’s State of the State speech, and I’d like to follow up on Sarah’s post with one of my own. After reading the speech, I think that even though Gov. Nixon and I may differ in the way we reach conclusions about what would be wise in terms of public policy, he seems to have arrived at some very good ideas.
Far too frequently, bureaucratic inertia allows certain government programs, positions, and workers to continue on well beyond the point at which they are more expensive than is justified by the value they provide to citizens. Sentimentality and political concerns make it difficult for elected officials to fire government workers, which is one reason why the government tends to be less efficient than private businesses, which are under constant pressure to discard workers or divisions that are no longer creating enough value to justify the expense. Gov. Nixon has pledged to cut nearly $200 million from the budget by treating the government more like a business. I’m certain that this is an unpopular position among many people with whom the governor associates, but it is one that — assuming he follows through with it — will be very good for the state. And, for all those worried about what will happen to the government workers who will be downsized, remember that if they are as good and effective workers as we hope they are, they should have little trouble finding a job somewhere in the private sector.
Gov. Nixon also announced his intention to review the state’s system of tax credits, suggesting that he will work to eliminate those that are corporate welfare masquerading as the public good. This is an excellent idea. Tax credits can be very useful to encourage private businesses and citizens to invest in Missouri, but they should never be used to give a special advantage to certain businesses, industries, or interest groups. Examples of good tax credit programs are those that lighten the tax burden for people who donate to chartities — such as domestic violence shelters, food pantries, and the Higher Education Scholarship Program. Examples of negative tax credit programs are those that lighten the tax burden only for specially favored businesses and industries, such as last year’s proposed Bombardier tax credit, the Hazelwood Ford Plant tax credit, or the tax credit for grape and wine producers. While we don’t know which tax credit programs Gov. Nixon will eventually target, his stance offers hope that he will work to end corporate welfare tax credits.
There are certainly points in the governor’s address that I disagree with, and you can be assured that I’ll address those points in the future. But, for now, I just want to say that I applaud him for the positive positions that he seems to be taking in regard to improving government transparency and efficiency, and targeting the misuse of tax credit schemes.