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The Buckeye Institute Releases Brand New Piglet Book and Calls on Legislators to Cut the Pork From State Budget

Mar 29, 2017

COLUMBUS, OHIO--What time is it?  Ohio's biennial budget time.  And what does that mean for all of us budget hawks, policy wonks, and pork haters?  Today is the special day that happens only once every two years.

If you are fiscally prudent, if you love puppies and college football, if you have a place in your heart for America and her states, today is the day you have been waiting for: The Buckeye Institute has released its brand new updated-for-this-budget-cycle Piglet Book--ta da!

Ohio legislators, be advised, our report is chalk full of great ideas--and you can steal them gratis. We won't worry about copyright violations or whether you cite us as your source. Claim them as your own. Feel free to become the heroic spending slashers to put all former spending slashers to shame. We will cheer you on with every dollar removed from the budget. And best of all? You will sleep better and become morally richer knowing you did the right thing for the Buckeye state and its taxpayers. In fact, a colleague of yours, Ohio Senator Kris Jordan noted, "The Buckeye Institute's biennial Piglet Book is always a great resource for policymakers looking to cut back on unnecessary and often wasteful spending.  I take its recommendations seriously and urge my colleagues to do the same."

Shucks, I don't think we could have said it better ourselves.

The Buckeye Institute's appropriately-named report analyzes wasteful spending in Ohio's biennial budget proposals, and cites projects that unwisely waste taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. Some of these projects should be eliminated entirely and others make sense to be left for private businesses and philanthropic organizations to fund instead.

A state's budget should reflect the priorities of its citizens. Too often, special interests alter the budget in harmful ways with crony handouts and questionable projects. The more a government spends, the more taxes it has to collect, which hurt small businesses and families most.

The goal of each edition of our Piglet Book is ultimately to limit state spending to essential services and state priorities, and--by way of a first step--to identify and expose the worst of the worst. If Ohio simply contained the growth of its spending to 2-2.5 percent annually, it could save over $3.7 billion. What would you do with that kind of cash? I think I'd literally go to Disney World. That's without cutting anything, just simply limiting the growth of spending. Imagine the savings from actually cutting some aspects of the budget. Of course, we still need to address the elephant in the room, what Governor Voinovich once called the "Pac-Man" of the state budget--Medicaid--if we want to get our house in order financially.

The author of the report, The Buckeye Institute's Senior Policy Analyst Greg R. Lawson said, "The Buckeye Institute's Piglet Book details specific spending programs that should be cut or eliminated in order to keep our state's budget under control. Too much government spending, even on well-meaning projects, reduces our prosperity and hurts taxpayers where it counts."

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Introduction

By Greg R. Lawson

Click here to download the full report: 2017 Ohio Piglet Book

The Buckeye Institute was founded because its staff and supporters believe that economic prosperity and personal happiness is best achieved when the size and scope of government is limited.

Ohio policymakers of all political persuasions want more job growth and greater opportunity for their constituents. Unfortunately, government spending is not a long-term engine that will drive job growth. There is much academic literature that shows more government spending crowds out private spending and investment as well as charity.[1] Ample academic evidence also shows that there are significant extraction costs of larger government. In other words, the bigger the government becomes, the higher taxes must eventually be to pay for it because new spending almost invariably creates a new budget baseline that is difficult to subsequently reduce.[2]

By contrast, smaller government means lower taxes, less bureaucracy and more individual freedom. This unleashes the real engine of growth—the creativity and risk taking of entrepreneurs and private business. The more government spending there is, the less opportunity there is for individual freedom and creativity to flourish and everyone becomes poorer.

This is not to say that government should play no role in our lives. When it comes to assuring public safety, the sanctity of private contracts, and the development of critical infrastructure, government often plays an indispensable role. Once government extends its reach beyond these areas, problems begin to emerge.

This is why Ohio’s biennial budget is so important. This key piece of legislation establishes Ohio’s spending priorities and creates the framework for how Ohio’s government operates.

Too much spending, a long-term problem in Ohio, limits the ability of policymakers to embrace the kind of free market reforms that will keep our engine of growth humming. Non-essential spending should be curtailed. The money not spent should be returned to Ohio taxpayers through comprehensive tax reform that will give us a system that raises only what is absolutely needed and does so in a way that leaves as little of a government impact on private economic decisions as possible.

The goal of the 2017 Piglet Book is to give Ohio policymakers’ ideas on ways to restrain the rate of growth in Ohio’s budget while remaining focused on essential services.

As outlined in The Buckeye Institute’s 2015 version of the Piglet Book, there are three principles that can guide Ohio’s policymakers to reasonable, and sustainable, levels of government spending.

1.  Constrain growth rates across the board. Policymakers should commit to restraining growth of government. It is reasonable to expect spending to grow as population grows. It is also necessary to increase essential spending to keep pace with inflation. Increases above these rates should be regarded with skepticism. Given that recent inflation has been under 3 percent, we advise increasing most appropriations from Fiscal Year 2016 expenditures by no more than 5 percent for Fiscal Year 2018 and then no more than 2 percent above that for Fiscal Year 2019.

2.  Eliminate corporate welfare. The government should not pick winners and losers in the economy by distributing taxpayer dollars to companies it thinks should succeed. Crony capitalism does not drive economic growth.

3.  Eliminate government encroachments on philanthropy and government advocacy. Arts, culture, and advocacy groups are valuable to society but should not be an arm of the government. Philanthropists and private charities are better positioned to direct citizens’ money to programs they want to support. Furthermore, government spending actually crowds out private giving.


[1] Matthew D. Mitchell, “In the Long Run We Are All Crowded Out,” The Mercatus Center, September 22, 2010, https://www.mercatus.org/publication/long-run-we-re-all-crowded-out#cit11.

[2] Daniel Mitchell, “Supplement to the Impact of Government Spending on Growth,” The Heritage Foundation, March 15, 2005, http://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/report/supplement-the-impact-government-spending-economic-growth.

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