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Government Spending

Government Spending
July 25, 2017
Congressional Subcommittee Considers Welfare Reform Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Nutrition is considering a bill to reform the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Transportation
July 24, 2017
Trump Sets Path for Air Traffic Control Reform
President Donald Trump announced his intention to explore separating the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) traffic control responsibilities from its role as a regulatory agency.
Government Spending
July 22, 2017
Ivanka Trump Pitches Paid-Leave Mandate on Capitol Hill
President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka went to Congress to sell her idea for government-mandated paid parental leave.
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Government & Politics
July 21, 2017
Puerto Rico Voters Approve Statehood Ballot Question
Puerto Rico voters overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding referendum calling for the commonwealth to begin the process of applying for admission as a full state.
Government Spending
July 21, 2017
Pennsylvania Reforms State Employee Pension System
Starting in 2018, Pennsylvania government employees will have more options for saving for retirement, in the wake of a sweeping new pension reform law.
Government Spending
July 21, 2017
Michigan Enacts Pension Reform
New teachers and employees in Michigan’s government schools will be automatically enrolled in a defined-contribution pension plan instead of the current taxpayer-funded, hybrid pension plan, beginning next year.
 

The Issue

Many states face looming fiscal challenges as tax revenues are insufficient to keep pace with growing government spending. Reforming pensions, welfare programs, and other entitlement program is the most promising solution to these fiscal challenges. Those reforms can help states become more competitive, strengthen state economies, and improve the employment outlook for all of a state’s residents.

Some government pension programs have become too generous. State and local government workers routinely are able to retire in their 50s - a decade or more earlier than most people in the private sector can - with pension benefits that exceed the retirement benefits persons in the private sector receive. The burden on taxpayers to fund public-sector retirement programs has been skyrocketing, forcing elected officials to consider raising taxes, more borrowing, cuts in other government services, or a combination of those strategies.

Entitlement programs, too, have become increasingly expensive for taxpayers, and they rarely work well for persons most in need. Most states can improve the effectiveness of their efforts to help those in poverty. Successful welfare reform can save lives and produce positive effects on multiple generations. It can save taxpayers billions of dollars and help address serious social maladies, such as crime, alcoholism, and teenage pregnancy.

Our Stance

In order to stop tax hikes and compel elected officials to control spending, free-market advocates must first prove that lower taxes, privatization of public services, and tax and spending limitations yield stronger economic growth and prosperity. We also must convince elected officials that lowering taxes and reducing government spending is good policy and good politics. Legislators armed with good information can win debates and get their legislation passed, persuade constituents, and mobilize interest groups that benefit from good policy choices.

Featured Subtopics

Man doing a budget with calculator
States are beginning to turn away from baseline budgeting, a method that has proven ineffective in keeping the size of government to a responsible level. They are moving toward zero-based and performance-based budgeting, which has proven effective in cutting deficits.
Cutting a credit card in half
States across the country continue to struggle with balancing their year to year budgets as a result of increasing spending and a lagging economy. Many state legislatures have also accumulated massive amounts of debt which taxpayers will have to pay due to years of overspending combined with state employee pensions and benefits.
Small jar with retirement money
States across the country are continuing to face structural budget deficits as they try to cope with too-generous pension promises made to their employees. Mandatory payments into pension funds divert money away from essential government services and create pressure for tax increases.
A football stadium at night
Sports stadium subsidies are a poor use of taxpayer dollars. They rarely realize the benefits their supporters claim and shift tax revenue away from where it is better utilized. Cities seeking to improve their competitiveness would be better served reducing their taxes or investing in more cost effective improvements like new and improved infrastructure.

Additional Subtopics

  • Deficits
  • Federal
  • Federalism
  • Gambling and Lotteries
  • Local
  • Privatization
  • State
  • Taxes
  • Unfunded Mandates
  • Unions: Public
  • Waste and Pork

Videos

Title: Free Market Road Show: The World after Brexit and Trump
Description: The 10th Annual Free Market Road Show brings together leading business people, outstanding scholars, and policy experts to discuss the aftermath of two historic events in the United Kingdom and United States.

Government Spending Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on government spending are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Staff & Fellows Policy Experts