By JONATHAN MILLER
Tax and spending reform can lead to greater economic success in our state.
Our economy's recovery will be stronger and quicker the more tax relief and spending discipline we exercise. Tax relief and spending discipline will also result in fuller, longer lasting economic growth.
1) Tax relief. Now, more than ever, businesses and individuals deserve tax relief. The more tax relief we can give the stronger and quicker our economy will recover.
My tax relief proposal for health care is one avenue. We should also reduce the gas tax, further reduce the food tax, and increase the homestead exemption.
Spending discipline requires a willingness to eliminate wasteful spending and the will power to not enact new government programs that require more spending and tax increases to pay for that spending.
2) Cut wasteful spending. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars are wastefully spent by our state government every year.
With these tough economic times, family budgets are cutting out their wasteful spending. Why shouldn't the government do the same?
Here's just one example of how badly our state government wastes our hard-earned money every year.
When the state Division of Highways (DOH) bids out a road project, it pays $33 per hour to the Flagman. That's just the Flagman's wages, so you can imagine how much the other workers receive (These high wages are known as the "prevailing wages," and they aren't paid to DOH workers).
The Flagman should make no more than $15 per hour. This wasteful spending results in a loss of over $300 million for highways every year. If you include spending on school, city, county, and water and sewer line construction the lost revenue climbs toward the $1 billion mark; and this is just the waste on construction projects!
You can read more about the prevailing wage here.
Gov. Joe Manchin hired a consulting firm to find wasteful spending. Somehow, this firm doesn't seem to think paying the Flagman $33 per hour is a waste. I think we deserve a refund.
3) No new government programs. New government programs ultimately result in higher taxes, and now is definitely not the time for higher taxes for anyone. Therefore, we need to resist the urge to institute new government programs.
One way to more effectively limit our government's ability to tax and spend more is through what has been called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR.
The TABOR empowers citizens to hold accountable their government's spending. It limits government spending to no greater than the rate of economic growth. If government spending exceeds that rate, the excess money is automatically returned to the taxpayers.
If TABOR were in place in West Virginia the last four years, tens of millions would have been returned to taxpayers due to our government growth being excessively higher than our economic growth.
The stimulus that tax relief, eliminating wasteful spending, and resisting new programs will inject into our economy will certainly ease the recession's burden on us all. It also remains the quickest and most effective path to strengthening our economy in both the short and long run.
Miller, a Republican, has served as a delegate for southern Berkeley County since being elected in 2006. Currently, Miller serves as a ranking member on the Health and Human Resources Committee in the capacity as Minority Vice-Chair.