The 2012 legislative session starts this week, and it could be an historic year for taxpayers. Although state spending is at an all-time high, phasing out the state’s personal income tax is quite possible if lawmakers choose to stop waste, inefficiency, and spending on non-core functions.
An example of non-core spending in state government is state appropriations for the Native American Cultural Education Authority, which is attempting to build an American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM). This entity, like so many others, was started with a promise that within several years of its creation it would be self-funded and require no additional state funding. More than 17 years and $67 million dollars later, the state continues to provide funding for both bond-indebtedness and operational expenses of an agency that still has not achieved its mission.
State Sen. Greg Treat and others have rightly highlighted this as a non-core function of government, especially considering the state’s investment to date.
It is time for this agency to operate as it was intended – solely on privately generated funds. Excluding taxpayer payments for the bonds of the AICCM, the state spends $1.3 million a year on salaries and operational expenses for an agency that has not achieved its mission in nearly two decades. As with any entity that performs non-core functions, the AICCM’s viability is best determined by its ability to provide its own support. If the AICCM cannot generate enough private funds to operate itself right now, why should taxpayers believe it can do so in the future?
Let’s hope that in 2012 lawmakers keep their focus on taxpayer relief and funding only core functions of government. This will be accomplished by eliminating waste, inefficiency, and non-core spending. Putting an end to the $1.3 million in taxpayers funds for the operations of the AICCM and freeing it to succeed based on private support is a great place to start.