Op-Ed by Brian Lenney
It’s the little things that kill. What do I mean? It’s the little things that kill a state.
There are a lot of bills and budgets and programs that come across the desks of legislators, but it’s the big ones that get attention. Take the Idaho socialist “Launch” program. It’s costing us $80 million. There’s also a program dealing with career technical education that started this year. It’s costing us $50 million.
These are programs that take giant chunks of a state’s budget, not to mention Medicaid spending, which is out of control.
But it’s not the 10 or 20 big things, it’s the little things. All of the hundreds and thousands of little things that kill a state.
For example, our State’s Department of Education just requested $2.2 million to remodel their offices so all of their employees can have an external view. Think about that. $2.2 million so everyone there can see out of a window. The argument they make to the spending committee, along with those who love big spending, is, “Eh – it’s only two million dollars.”
There’s also our Secretary of State. He just requested almost a million dollars to remodel his office. He hasn’t even been Secretary of State for one year, and he already wants just under a million dollars. His budget for this year over last year went up over 200 percent, and part of that was a $10 million request for software. Plus he hired a full-time lobbyist, and the price tag for that was something like $70,000.
The Secretary of State also wants to publish a state-sponsored voter guide for $750,000.
These are just some of the items coming to mind, but on and on and on it goes. A million here, two million there, three million over there. All of these things add up.
You’ve probably heard it asked, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It takes a bunch of tiny bricks to build a giant wall. It’s all the little things that we need to watch out for when we’re assessing bills and budgets and programs.
You’ll hear legislators say, “I’m a conservative – I voted against these one or two big things.” I respond by saying, “Yeah, but you voted for the 121 little things.”
It’s all the little things that kill a state. Here’s what people need to remember: It’s not conservative to grow government. Yes, sometimes you need to put new programs or new processes in place, but it’s not conservative to vote for every single budget or spending bill that comes across your desk.
These hundreds of smaller budgets are almost accompanied by the word “only.” They say, “It’s only million dollars … it’s only $750,000 … it’s only a $2 million office remodel … it’s only $10 million for software … it’s only a 200 percent increase in an executive branch office budget.”
Everyone talks about the big $80 million “Launch” bill, and yes, it is horrible. The Launch bill does what China does. It’s doing what Communist countries do. It’s “Central Planning.” It’s not a free-market solution in any way.
But people don’t talk about the small bills, and it’s all the small bills that kill a state. Things need to change.
Senator Brian Lenney
Brian Lenney is an Idaho State Senator representing District 13.
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