State Should Eliminate Waste Instead of Raising Taxes

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

(Washington, D.C.) - The 7,900 members and supporter of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Arkansas today urged the Arkansas Legislature to reject any proposed tax increases. In order to comply with a State Supreme Court ruling ordering the legislature to restructure the education funding formula, increasing the sales, income, and/or capital gains taxes, as well as taxes on services such as satellite television have been suggested.

"Whenever politicians are faced with a budget shortfall, they turn to tax increases as the easiest solution," CCAGW President Tom Schatz said. "But taking more money out of the pockets of Arkansans will not solve the state's education needs. The root problems must first be identified and recommendations mapped out before more money is invested. Otherwise, hard-earned tax dollars will simply go to waste. One doesn't have to look any further than the U.S. Department of Education for a perfect example of how more spending is the wrong solution."

From 1996-2003, federal education spending increased by 132 percent, compared with 96 percent for the Department of Health and Human Services, and 48 percent for defense over the same period. However, since 1996, 12th grade science scores have declined and reading and math remain virtually unchanged. Furthermore, after $321 billion in federal education outlays since 1965, 4th grade reading scores have remained flat, at 32 percent proficiency, for three decades.

"Instead of raising taxes, other methods of complying with the Supreme Court ruling should be examined," Schatz continued. "There is plenty of waste in state and local governments that could be identified and eliminated so that taxpayers are not faced with an extra burden. Governor Mike Huckabee needs to set up a commission, similar to President Reagan's Grace Commission, that will identify waste, fraud, and abuse such as duplicative government programs, and agencies whose use is no longer needed, then join with taxpayers to demand that the Legislature enact the recommendations."

In South Carolina, Gov. Mark Sanford formed a similar commission which reported in the fall of 2003, $225 million in recommended savings, with a further $300 million each year thereafter. Faced with a $15 billion deficit in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week announced plans to form a comparable committee. Both governors proposed budgets without a tax increase.

"Identifying waste can not only help Arkansans solve the education crisis, it can also save taxpayers money for years to come," Schatz concluded. "Gov. Huckabee has a chance to demonstrate fiscally responsible leadership and provide innovative ideas to eliminate waste, setting an example for governors across the country."

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

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