Monday, July 30, 2007

Guidelines for Reducing Wasteful Spending

In 2003 the Heritage Foundation published a great analysis on reducing wasteful government spending. Here are some reasonable, much needed guidelines included in the analysis that Washington hasn't heeded the last several years, but needs to now as much as ever. The summary is posted below but read the entire report here for detailed analysis of how the below guidelines would drastically curtail wasteful spending.

Ten Guidelines for Reducing Wasteful Government Spending

1. Build a constituency for limited government and lower taxes
2. Turn local programs back to the states
3. Privatize activities that could be performed better by the private sector
4. Terminate irrelevant programs and reform wasteful programs
5. Terminate corporate welfare and other mistargeted programs
6. Consolidate duplicative and contradictory programs
7. Convert several remaining programs into vouchers
8. Terminate programs rather than trimming them or phasing them out
9. Utilize the "ideas industry" for specific proposals
10. Remove procedural barriers to saving taxpayer dollars

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wisconsin and the True Cost of Government Healthcare

Democrats who run the Wisconsin Senate have dropped the Washington pretense of incremental health-care reform and moved directly to passing a plan to insure every resident under the age of 65 in the state. And, wow, is "free" health care expensive. The plan would cost an estimated $15.2 billion, or $3 billion more than the state currently collects in all income, sales and corporate income taxes. It represents an average of $510 a month in higher taxes for every Wisconsin worker.

Full article from Opinion Journal.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Phantom Economic Benefits of SCHIP Expansion

Proponents of federal spending programs commonly extol the many jobs that would be created if their spending wishes were met. Defense contractors do it. Highway bill supporters do it. Now even proponents of higher federal health care spending are claiming more funding translates into more jobs and higher wages. The trouble is that such claims are almost never true. A case in point is analysis published by Families USA in support of the reauthorization and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

See the full Heritage Foundation report here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Government Spending Transparency

Taxpayer Group Applauds Hawaii's Passage of Spending Transparency Bill

"Enactment of a bill last Thursday opening up Hawaii's state government spending to public scrutiny puts Hawaii in an elite group of states pioneering the "Google Government" movement, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). Hawaii joins Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas as the first states to open their books up to taxpayers online, with the passage of House Bill 122. "

Story continues here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Prioritizing Education Spending

The following editorial from the Indianapolis Star examines the need to prioritize spending so that classroom instruction comes first, and capital improvement comes second. Too often the priorities are the reversed.

There are two clear lessons to learn from the possible delay in capital improvements for Indianapolis Public Schools.

One is that all school systems need to make certain that what's being spent on bricks and mortar translates into an improved education for students. That's the responsible thing to do in a climate of runaway property taxes.

Read the rest here.

Economic Growth Expected to Slow...Government Growth Must Also

The annual "Virginia Economic Forecast" published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy points to a slowing economy nationally as well as here in Virginia.

This follows a pretty robust economic expansion over the past few years which could not be maintained. No recession is forecast, just slower growth.

This annual economic forecast is researched and written by the state's most respected group of economic analysts at Chmura Economics and Analytics. Past reports have been very accurate over the eight years that this forecast has been published. It is available online at

The cooling of the housing industry is the main cause for the slowing economy, and will remain so over the next year. The biggest question mark on the horizon, other than increased hostilities in the Middle East, is the volatility of oil prices.

If the Iraq war does not worsen, and the price of oil remains about $60 a barrel, then the national and state economies will remain moving forward - just at a slower clip than in the past few years.

The implications on public policy are quite apparent. The growth of state and local governments must slow down as the economy slows.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fixing DC's Schools

This Washington Post series investigates efforts to reform Washington D.C.'s school system.

A detailed assessment of the D.C. public school system reveals that it is among the highest-spending and worst-performing in the nation, with ample evidence of a breakdown in basic function.

Part One: The Breakdown

Part Two:Reform's Checkered History

Part Three: A Philadelphia Story

Failing Schools Face Changes

Thousands of Failing Schools Face Major Overhaul

NEW YORK (AP) -- The scarlet letter in education these days is an "R."

It stands for restructuring -- the purgatory that schools are pushed into if they fail to meet testing goals for six straight years under the No Child Left Behind law.

Nationwide, about 2,300 schools are either in restructuring or are a year away and planning for such drastic action as firing the principal and moving many of the teachers, according to a database provided to The Associated Press by the Education Department. Those schools are being warily eyed by educators elsewhere as the law's consequences begin to hit home.

Schools fall into this category after smaller changes, such as offering tutoring, fall short. The effort is supposed to amount to a major makeover, and it has created a sense of urgency that in some schools verges on desperation.

"This is life and death," says John Deasy, superintendent of schools in Prince George's County, Maryland, where several schools are coming face-to-face with the consequences of President Bush's signature education law. "This is very high-stakes work."

See the full story here