By: Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief
Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
While the economy continues to struggle, state lawmakers have a rare and valuable opportunity for major change and reform within state government. Governor Culver and Iowa Legislators must not pass up this chance to completely change the way the State of Iowa does business. There is no better time to evaluate and make state government better for Iowa taxpayers.
I recommend to Governor Culver and the Iowa Legislature, take this time to make sweeping changes to state government; consolidate duplicative departments, agencies, and programs. Even though our state is in the middle of a fiscal emergency, I am unable to see the gloom and doom; a time such as this presents our state leaders with the opportunity to improve our state government.
Too often, politicians forget government works for the taxpayers, not the other way around. A major overhaul of state government would turn around our overbearing system, making it more accountable to us, Iowa taxpayers.
Over the past few years, we have seen our state government grow out-of-control. Currently, there are over 45 state departments, bureaus, and authorities. This number does not include the many boards and commissions within state government. Our state leaders should carefully examine Iowa government for duplication and overlap. Taxpayers deserve an explanation. Why do we have both the “Bureau of Professional Licensing” and the “Professional Licensing Division?” Why not one agency to handle all of the professional licensing?
Consolidation is not always easy but it is long overdue. Even state agencies have recommended some consolidation. Merging the Alcoholic Beverages Division into the Iowa Department of Revenue would save taxpayers $690,317. To move the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy under the Department of Public Safety would reduce the state budget by $333,187. If the Department of the Blind were to be merged into the Department of Education, Iowans would save another $118,520.
There are simple things Iowa Lawmakers can do to shrink the expense of state government, such as move to a centralized structure for Information Technology. Today, Iowa’s state government has twenty-five different email systems, dozens of different storage systems, and 2,000 servers on the Capitol Complex and around the state for state government operations. This approach to Information Technology is similar to having every member of your family do their own weekly meal planning and grocery shopping independently of the rest of the family. It increases confusion and dramatically increases the cost. In 2005, the State of Indiana transferred the state’s various e-mail systems to a single consolidated system. This combined with other improvements to the state’s Information Technology infrastructure saved taxpayers in the Hoosier State $14 million.
Over the past two months, I have suggested ways for our state government to become more efficient. These suggestions are ideas to help Iowa climb out of the economic hole, a way to reverse the budget deficit, without raising taxes. Governor Culver and the Legislature need to fundamentally reevaluate the way Iowa does business and lower the cost of government for taxpayers over the long term.
It is overdue for state government to work for Iowans, and our lawmakers should go into the 2010 Legislative Session with the goals of increasing government efficiency, reducing redundancy, and getting government out of the way of Iowa families, so we all can prosper.
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