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Spending makes a better state
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Spending makes a better state

BY Jeff Thompson

The claim that Oregon government spending is out of control was an important part of the campaign against Measure 30. Emboldened by their success, the Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for a Sound Economy and their allies are sure to recycle these claims as they push “spending limits” that force deep reductions in public services over time. The chief problem with their rant is that it just isn’t true. Spending by state and local governments in Oregon has risen only with economic growth, leaving public services at a relatively constant level. Statistics don’t lie, but the folks at CSE do use them to deceive the public. CSE routinely decries “huge” spending increases without making any adjustments for inflation or population growth. Even these adjustments are insufficient to make an accurate assessment of growth in spending. The costs of major services, especially education and health care, tend to rise faster than inflation in general. The quickest way to see if spending is actually growing, or merely keeping up with the cost of and demand for services, is to compare it with income. Notably, CSE and company don’t do that. How has Oregon’s government spending changed compared with income; that is, with Oregonians’ ability to pay for the spending? State and local government general expenditures, not counting federal dollars and compared across peaks in Oregon’s business cycles, were 17.4 percent of income in 1978-79, 15 percent in 1988-89, and 15.2 percent in 1999-2000. That’s hardly evidence of a spending problem. (Since 2000, state spending has declined as a share of income.) The attack on public services also relies on misleading and meaningless cross-state rankings. Census figures show Oregon ranked eighth among states for total state and local government expenditures per capita in 1999-2000. The more relevant category of “general expenditures less federal aid,” however, shows Oregon state and local governments ranked 16th — just $50 above the national average. State spending alone fell below the national average. But what does a rank of “16” even mean? Is it good or bad? Is it “too high” or “too low”? Is Maine, which ranks 24th, with only $200 less spending per capita, really better than Oregon? The 10 lowest spending per capita states include Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, South Dakota, Tennessee and Kentucky — all “low services” states that hardly serve as models. Even cleared of deception, state-versus-state rankings offer little guidance. Oregonians needn’t neglect education, health care or other vital services just because residents of some other state have decided to do so. Who wants to win the race to the bottom? The vast majority of state and -local government spending goes to -services that are vital to all Oregonians: education, public safety and health care. Spending on these ser--vices has risen along with the costs of providing them and the ability to afford them. Major policy initiatives, such as the Oregon Health Plan and “tough on crime” reforms, have enjoyed broad public support. The idea that spending in Oregon indicates a Legislature run amok makes no sense. Governments must spend money to meet public needs. If Oregonians want to provide better education to more people, provide health care to more children, keep more criminals behind bars for longer and put more troopers on the road, we have to pay for it. Government, like every household and business, could become more efficient. Pursuing greater efficiency, though, is an ongoing process. It takes time and can often end up costing more upfront, saving only in the long term. Becoming more efficient is not an alternative to adequate funding.

03/19/2004
House Moves to Hold Line on Spending
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Press Release

House Moves to Hold Line on Spending

The U.S. House Budget Committee is leading the effort to get Washington spending under control. Yesterday, Committee Members led by Chairman Jim Nussle approved the budget for the next fiscal year. While the Committee proposes federal spending in 2005 at a staggering $2.3 trillion level, this budget resolution is actually much better than the Senate's effort.

03/18/2004
House Moves to Hold Line on Spending
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Press Release

House Moves to Hold Line on Spending

The U.S. House Budget Committee is leading the effort to get Washington spending under control. Yesterday, Committee Members led by Chairman Jim Nussle approved the budget for the next fiscal year. While the Committee proposes federal spending in 2005 at a staggering $2.3 trillion level, this budget resolution is actually much better than the Senate's effort.

03/18/2004
Congressman Burr Signs Spending Veto Letter
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Press Release

Congressman Burr Signs Spending Veto Letter

On March 8, 2004, Congressman Richard Burr signed the Congressional letter to President Bush pledging to uphold any vetos related to excessive spending. The effort is part of a broad CSE campaign on behalf of spending restraint and the letter, which was initially drafted by Rep. Chris Cox.

03/15/2004
Congressman Burr Signs Spending Veto Letter
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Press Release

Congressman Burr Signs Spending Veto Letter

On March 8, 2004, Congressman Richard Burr signed the Congressional letter to President Bush pledging to uphold any vetos related to excessive spending. The effort is part of a broad CSE campaign on behalf of spending restraint and the letter, which was initially drafted by Rep. Chris Cox.

03/15/2004
The Case For CARFA, Part One
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The Case For CARFA, Part One

BY By Rep. Todd Tiahrt

Editor's note: U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) testified yesterday before the House Budget Committee on the need to restrain federal spending. The concluding portion of his testimony will be published in tomorrow's edition of NNN.

03/04/2004
Maine Freedom Agenda Update
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Press Release

Maine Freedom Agenda Update

The Hot Stove League met in Bangor, Maine on Saturday February 21st to discuss important economic policy issues. These meetings include state legislators and business leaders in the city, and they occur three or four times during the legislative session. The league tackled the budget deficit, tax reform, and health care. Health care dominated the discussion because 25 percent of Mainers are covered by Medicare. (Bangor Daily News, 2/23/04) Business leaders and Republican legislators discussed ways to curtail the program’s growth, but others at the meeting pointed out that neither Governor John Baldacci nor the Democrat controlled legislature were likely to reduce eligibility this session.

03/01/2004
CSE Urges U.S. House to Support Spending Vetoes Letter
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Press Release

CSE Urges U.S. House to Support Spending Vetoes Letter

02/26/2004
Call to Action: Veto Runaway Spending in Washington
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Press Release

Call to Action: Veto Runaway Spending in Washington

Spending is out of control, but the President and some leaders in Congress are committed to putting America's fiscal house back in order.

02/25/2004
A March to Remember
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Press Release

A March to Remember

©2004 Copley News Service, 2/17/2004 February is Black History Month primarily because Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Feb. 12. Unfortunately, the political party he helped to found has lost its historical recognition as the Party of Civil Rights. As I've said previously: The Democratic Party had a terrible history and overcame it; the Republican Party had a great history and turned aside.

02/17/2004

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