Avoiding a Poor Growth Model

As an elected official, knowing the legislative landscape in other states is almost important as leading by example in your own state. In the private sector, sharing best practices and reaching out to one’s colleagues to find out which policies are working and which are not working is a common procedure.

As an elected official, knowing the legislative landscape in other states is almost important as leading by example in your own state. In the private sector, sharing best practices and reaching out to one’s colleagues to find out which policies are working and which are not working is a common procedure.

Part of leading, though, is knowing which paths to not travel down. Public policy is fraught with pitfalls—ideas that may seem tempting at first, but later bear consequences that hurt everyone.

For example, for decades, elected officials in Illinois have been “asleep at the switch,” as unfunded public pension liabilities, political corruption and other abuses of the taxpayers’ trust have engulfed the state’s body politic. Unfortunately for the people of Illinois, corruption and debt are the primary things for which Illinois is known!

Studies suggest that the state’s political corruption has a real price — this summer, research by Indiana University professor of public and environmental affairs John Mikesell and City University of Hong Kong assistant professor of public policy Cheol Liu suggested that Illinois government spending would contract by 5.2 percent, if only the Prairie State had a merely “average” amount of government corruption.

As Mikesell and Liu found, Illinois’ corruption was concentrated in the spending areas in which government had the most influence, areas such as large public-works construction projects, funding of police and corrections services, and borrowing and salary allocations. These spending categories are not necessarily inherently corrupt, but the large amounts of money being thrown around and accounting gimmicks make it easier to conceal bribes and kick-backs.

Because of the moral failures of their elected officials, every single person in the state pays $1,308 more in taxes than they actually have to — effectively, a completely unnecessary “corruption tax,” directly lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and crooked lobbyists.

Another state from which we can draw examples of “what not to do” is California. Despite having a gross domestic product larger than most countries in the whole world, the Golden State’s combination of sky-high taxes, onerous and byzantine regulations and laws, and hand-over-fist government spending, businesses are leaving the state for friendlier economic climes in droves.

Like Illinois, corruption is also a big problem in California. This year, politically influential state senator Jerry Liu — a vocal advocate of anti-Second Amendment regulations — was arrested by federal law enforcement agents for serving as a black-market arms dealer, trading shoulder-fired missile launchers with radical foreign terrorist groups… while taking bribes and helping friends receive lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts.

The solution to not becoming the next Illinois or California—even on the scale of a city or a county — is relatively simple. Pro-growth policies such as those being advocated by Ohio’s elected officials — income tax cuts which help citizens keep more of their hard-earned money, increasing government efficiency and cutting the bureaucratic red tape for business owners — are the key to a successful and healthy economy.

Ultimately, there exists a moral imperative for leaner and more efficient government. Our elected officials are human, just as flawed and fallible as anyone else. As shown by California and Illinois, the larger the government, the larger the temptation to “skim a little off the top.” With less government there is less opportunity for corrosive behavior.

The plight of Illinois and California are completely avoidable. Putting the right policies in place can unleash the true potential of any state, letting the free market the maximum benefits to our communities. There are plenty of legislative examples for Ohio to learn from, some good and some bad. As Ohio continues on it’s upwards trajectory, its important to stay on the path of good government, tax cuts, and policies that encourage job growth.

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