During the last two weeks, I have written about two unfortunate aspects of this year's session. First, property tax reform was not allowed to take place and second, stimulus dollars thwarted an excellent opportunity to significantly shrink the size of state government.
That does not change the fact that there is a lot of good news resulting from this year's legislative work.
Early in the year, legislative leadership in the House and Senate committed to reforming and streamlining government functions in order to eliminate obvious inefficiencies and save taxpayer dollars through the application of new technologies.
Because of their commitment, many of the streamlining concepts were successfully presented and signed into law in the form of House Bill 1032 (Omnibus Modernization) and House Bill 1170 (IT Streamlining).
There were a number of very good concepts in these bills, namely: enhancing transparency (which I plan to write about very soon), attempting to stop agencies from passing on unfair fee increases, and reorganizing purchasing and IT infrastructure in order to save money.
These bills have the potential to save millions of taxpayer dollars that would have otherwise been unnecessarily wasted. The only reason they were successful was because legislative leadership, working in partnership with the Governor, stuck to their guns and ensured passage despite some legislative and agency level opposition.
In doing so, legislative leaders were able to trim off some of the obvious waste of taxpayer dollars.
In my view, this was the logical starting place for shrinking the size of government. If we had not been successful in reducing the obvious inefficiencies, it would have been impossible to take on those reforms which will be more comprehensive and difficult to achieve.
Many of the ideas originated from a study on government modernization commissioned by former Speaker Lance Cargill and current House Appropriations Chairman Ken Miller in 2007. It has taken two legislative years to win approval of the reform observed during that study.
During the legislative interim, I will be asking the Speaker of the House to allow the House committee which I chair to hold several interim studies so that we can study the suggestions to be incorporated in a new round of money-saving legislation.
In the meantime, I would very much appreciate your suggestions and observations on saving taxpayer dollars and reducing some of the waste in government. Your observations are vital to having the necessary information to confront and eliminate that waste.