by Max Brantley
Sun rises in east. Dog bites man. Americans for Prosperity says government has grown too much.
AFP is the conservative political group founded by the Koch family of billionaires that is paying Dick Armey to go around the country inciting teabaggers and others to strangle government so as to cut the Kochs' taxes.
Its latest ploy is a release on the percentage growth in state government employment and spending. It doesn't delve into what role expansion of higher education and health care and court-ordered education spending and exploding prison population, to name four, have played in this equation. Nor does it, for example, compare state government spending growth with, say, executive compensation growth, or the increase in health care costs, etc. Nor does it say whether it is schools, colleges, nursing homes or prisons that it would slash first.
You know what they say about figures. But for your information:
AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY NEWS RELEASE
Little Rock, AR – The Arkansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity released part one of its anticipated five year government spending overview for the state of Arkansas.
“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,” stated Teresa Oelke, State Director of AFP-Arkansas.
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.