Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elise Hall: Danger In Public Sector Growth

Rep. Elise Hall is concerned that without a more appropriate spending limitation, Oklahoma’s public sector could grow too fast in “boom” years.

“I believe that public sector growth should not outpace the growth of the private sector,” Hall (R-Oklahoma City) said. “Right now, we are in a revenue shortfall and have had to make drastic cuts, because lawmakers appropriated so much money in revenue growth years. I think the current spending limitation that restricts the annual growth of the state budget to 12 percent should be lowered to further restrict public sector growth. Today’s study examined this idea and showed it has merit.”

State government growth has regularly exceeded private sector growth in Oklahoma since voters approved a 1985 spending limitation, according to Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs fiscal analyst Jonathan Small. State employment grew by 8.57 percent from 2000 to 2010 while private sector employment grew by only 6.07 percent. Government expenditures have grown 72.20 percent from 2001 to 2010 while private earnings have grown by only 40.71 percent.

Given the overwhelming data, a new spending limitation would be reasonable, Small said.

“Oklahomans overwhelmingly support the idea of shrinking state government, so I think it is especially appropriate to limit growth,” Hall said. “It is better to save surplus revenue for shortfall periods than to overcommit the state to expenditures that it cannot sustain.”

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