There is no government or private sector budget with items labeled “government waste,” or “junket” or “fraud and abuse.” When the Idaho Freedom Foundation began reviewing state and local government records in search of waste, elected officials and bureaucrats claimed that there is very little to discover – that with the recession and cost-cutting measures at all levels of government, there’s no room for frills. As it turns out, that was hardly the case, and no one should be surprised.
Nonetheless, it is surprising that Idaho taxpayers are being forced to pay for such extreme excess such as:
Legislators who never show up for work
Unnecessary air travel
All of these expenditures were done under the watch of the stewards of the taxpayer dollar during a budget crisis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why this happened.
First, Idaho’s government has always lacked true government transparency. It’s a formula that encourages waste. Government employees find themselves spending money under the cover of darkness that they wouldn’t spend under the warm glow of a public spotlight.
Second, there’s never been a real analysis of government services. Idaho lawmakers are good at adding programs, agencies and services, and woefully lax when it comes to eliminating the same, even during hard times.
Third, whenever Idaho policymakers have been confronted with a dilemma, they automatically gravitate toward raising taxes instead of cutting government spending. In 2003, state leaders were given a chance to cut government spending in order to balance the budget. They made some cuts, but raised sales and cigarette taxes.
In 2009, proposals were floated to raise gas, wine and beer taxes – instead of eliminating useless programs and agencies. While lawmakers rejected all proposals for raising taxes in 2009, many left the door open for tax hikes in the future – when the economy improves and Idahoans are better off financially.
This publication serves to prove that taxes don’t need to be raised; there’s plenty of government to raze instead. Government has not been “cut to the bone.” If the state has a need to repair or build roads, government waste should be cut and that money could be used to get the job done.
The 2010 Idaho Pork Report, published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation and Citizens Against Government Waste, is intended to educate the public and lead the state’s leaders to examine the proper role of government and make both the tough decisions and the right decisions for Idaho taxpayers.