I was reading previous years’ Governor’s Budget Books over the weekend, and decided it might be informative to total the amount of past state appropriations that went to state golf courses. From FY-2001 to FY-2009, lawmakers appropriated $6,530,000 for golf courses. This figure does not include the amounts for FY-2010 or FY-2011. It will probably be even more frustrating to see how much has been spent on golf courses in the last two years, when there has been “less to spend.” But what’s really frustrating is some of the commentary in past budget books during the Henry administration:
- “Use of the golf courses has declined as have revenues and expenditures. Declining revenues results in lower maintenance and declining course quality.”
- “The Governor's budget proposes a reduction in the number of golf course properties operated or owned by the state of Oklahoma …”
- “Many state golf courses sell 30% to 38% fewer rounds than competitors.”
As OCPA has pointed out, “Oklahoma’s state resorts and golf courses—which do not pay property taxes to support essential services such as local schools, firefighters, and police—have no incentive to make a profit. Even if they did turn a profit, they would not be paying income taxes to the state—something their competitors who operate private resorts or golf courses are forced to do. These government-owned operations take money away from taxpayers who are risking their own capital instead of the taxpayers’ money.”
Operating golf courses is not a core function of government. Oklahoma should get out of the golf course business altogether. Let’s hope that policymakers intent on “right-sizing” government will eliminate these frivolous subsidies.