Put Government on a Spending Diet

Commonwealth Foundation analysis finds $6.7 billion in “unhealthy“ state spending

HARRISBURG, PA — Today, in anticipation of Governor Rendell’s 2008-09 budget proposal, the Commonwealth Foundation released Government on a Diet: Spending Tips 2008. The report identifies $6.7 billion in “unhealthy” spending from the state operating budget, capital budget, and off-budget agencies.

Spending Tips 2008 highlights some of Harrisburg’s most wasteful spending of taxpayer money,” said Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “With the spending of billions of taxpayer money on non-core government programs, we want the citizens of our Commonwealth to be more aware of how state government is misusing and abusing their hard-earned tax dollars. We hope lawmakers use this report as a means to help focus government spending only on those core government functions that truly serve the public good.”

Spending Tips 2008, co-authored by Nathan Benefield, Jessica Runk, and Matthew Brouillette, identifies a total of $6.7 billion in spending cuts—$1.2 billion from the state General Fund Budget, $1.2 billion from other operating funds, and $4.2 billion from the capital budget and off-budget programs. If eliminated and returned to the taxpayers, the average family of four in Pennsylvania would realize a $2,100 reduction in their share of the cost of state government.

Click here for Chart

The spending reductions are organized into four categories of “unhealthy spending”:

  • Corporate Welfare. These programs award tax dollars to individual companies at the expense of all taxpayers, empowering government officials to pick and choose winners and losers in the marketplace.
  • Private Goods. These programs and services are activities that only benefit a handful of individuals or groups rather than the general public, compete with the private sector, and would be better left to the free market.
  • Paternalism. These programs represent a paternalistic belief that state government must care for the public like children, depraving citizens of personal responsibility.
  • Perverse Incentives. These programs are for the benefit of government officials, not the general public, and they encourage additional government waste and extravagance.

Spending Tips 2008 is part of the Commonwealth Foundation’s Pennsylvania Diet Plan: 3 Steps to Fiscal & Economic Health. The Pennsylvania Diet Plan is a program designed to help state government shed millions and billions of dollars in unnecessary and wasteful spending of taxpayer money and put the commonwealth back on a path toward fiscal and economic health. For more on the Pennsylvania Diet Plan, visit www.PADietPlan.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The full report, Government on a Diet: Spending Tips 2008, is available here (For a text only version, click here). For a hard copy call 717.671.1901 or email info@CommonwealthFoundation.org.

# # #

The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute located in Harrisburg, PA.

– 30 –