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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Closer scrutiny may reduce government

Thursday, April 3, 2003

"The bill would force the Legislature to review every single program that requires state spending."

With little debate and absolutely no fanfare, the Missouri Senate on Wednesday approved a measure that may have some long-reaching impact on the size of state government. It may be premature to say the bill would actually accomplish its goal, but it most definitely is a step in the right direction.

Under a Senate bill - approved by a simple voice vote - all state programs would expire after six years unless the Legislature renews them. Imagine if you will a state government where department heads are forced to justify spending on every program in state government. That would make the lawmakers much more accountable to the public who fund these thousands of programs with hard-earned tax dollars.

The bill would force the Legislature to review every single program that requires state spending. After six years if a program has fallen short of its goal or has simply not worked, the lawmakers could routinely kill the program. That should go a long way toward reducing some useless programs that have been around for far too long.

The way the Legislature now works, programs are implemented every year and many are routinely renewed with no record of their accomplishments or failures. All too often, it's just business as usual. A program comes up for renewal, it's approved and dollars continue to flow. But taxpayers should demand accountability. I want to know if the program is doing what was intended and, if not, then the program should be discontinued.

This is just the latest in a series of measures to reduce the size of state government. With a billion dollars shortfall in revenue this year alone, it's high time that all state programs come under scrutiny. This Senate bill is a major step forward in this process.

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