Budget & Tax
Trent England | May 5, 2015
Is Government Too Small?
Call it the Tom Delay Disease. Even some strident conservatives, after serving years in office and rising through the ranks into leadership, can lose perspective. In 2005, then-House Majority Leader Delay insisted there was no spending left to cut. He claimed Republicans had “pared [government] down pretty good.”
Right now, within the Oklahoma Capitol, there are rumblings and grumblings about a quarter-percent personal income tax cut scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2016. These noises are not coming from the political left.
Oklahoman Democrats consistently oppose tax cuts. Oklahoma Republicans, on the other hand, talk about “right sizing government,” making it less intrusive, and—yes—cutting taxes. In recent elections, large majorities of Oklahoma voters have endorsed the latter message and rewarded Republicans with political power.
The quarter-point personal income tax cut scheduled to take effect January 1st will save taxpayers, collectively, about $50 million in 2016. To put that in perspective, state agencies spend nearly $40 million every year on “swag, advertising, and memberships.” State tax dollars also fund various fairs, expos, rodeos, and roping contests—hardly core functions of government.
Even at what many regard as the core of government services, potential cost savings abound. Reforming state employee health benefits, state-funded healthcare entitlements, and school district administration could save hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
There is fat, plenty of it, to trim in state spending. There are conservative elected officials, plenty of them, working on the next state budget. Whether they have the Tom Delay Disease or not, we’ll soon find out.
David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.