19 Things States Should Not Do In 2019 | Citizens Against Government Waste

19 Things States Should Not Do In 2019

The WasteWatcher

Governors and legislators new and old taking office this month will be inundated with advice from all directions.  Each special interest and left-wing or right-wing single-issue activist group will have scheduled meetings between its highest-paid lobbyists and the most important legislators; prepared its talking points and social media campaigns; and made its first campaign contributions of 2019.  The state’s education association, hospital association, largest employers, small businesses, unions, parks, railroads, airports, universities, sports teams, and hundreds of other stakeholders - each will have two or three major priorities for the 2019 legislative session, so legislators will be pulled in all directions.  Then there are the mayors and county supervisors within the state who have their own grievances.  Since legislators, most of whom are part-time, cannot be experts on every issue, and, unlike Members of Congress, mostly do not have large staffs, they often rely on what they hear from relevant stakeholders.

Each state, of course, has its own unique issues.  But some principles extend to all of them.  Here, on behalf of taxpayers, and in no particular order, is a list of 19 things state legislators, governors, and local elected officials should NOT do in 2019:

1. Enact single-payer healthcare proposals

  • Vermont’s failed; California’s was abandoned because of its $400 billion cost.  ‘Nuff said.

2. Deny knowledge of the massive crisis that has resulted from the chronic underfunding of state and local pensions

  • These are underfunded by an astonishing $6 trillion.  It’s past time for serious reforms to pensions.  At the federal level, Congress should pass legislation to prevent a bailout of failing state and local pensions.

3. Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour

  • When Seattle did this, one study found that low-wage workers lost an average of $125 a month because of layoffs and reduced hours.  But the good news is that because of federal tax cuts, companies like Amazon and Charter Communications have been able to raise their minimum wage to $15—without government intervention.

4. Enact discriminatory taxes on things they don’t like

  • Bags, soda, drinking water—you name it, there’s probably someone who wants to tax it.  Taxes should be flat, low, and broad-based, instead of targeting specific products and industries.  In Philadelphia, the soda tax has been a disaster on multiple levels.

5. Ban things that are made of plastic

  • Bags, forks, straws, and more are plastic products targeted by politicians’ overreach.  In Washington, D.C., the city’s inspectors go on patrol for violations of its plastic straw ban.  In reality, plastic pollution is a small part of pollution overall, and the United States accounts for only 0.9% of ocean plastic pollution, while China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka alone account for more than half.

6. Raise state income taxes

  • So-called “millionaires’ taxes” are a major threat to a state’s long-term fiscal situation.  Former Governor Dannel Malloy (D) of Connecticut, of all people, remarked that “Connecticut is too dependent on our highest-income earners for our revenue” after income tax collections were $450 million lower than expected because millionaires fled the state.

7. Raise state corporate taxes

  • Perhaps the worst recent idea originated in California, where it was proposed that half of businesses’ federal tax cut be turned over to the state.

8. Attempt a state-level “Green New Deal”

  • In many cases, it is unclear exactly what the “green new deal” is supposed to accomplish, but it’s safe to say that efforts to mandate renewable energy are often impractical, expensive, and do disproportionate damage to the poor.

9. Ban fracking

  • Hydraulic fracturing, as fracking is formally called, is safe, cost-effective, and has generated an American energy revolution, which means less oil imported from Russia and Saudi Arabia.  Natural gas from fracking is also a much cleaner form of energy than declining coal.

10. Attempt to run their own broadband networks

  • Some politicians believe that they are equipped to manage a broadband network.  They are not.  In Kentucky, the government-owned broadband network has become a universal laughingstock.  It would be worth laughing at if taxpayers had not already wasted millions. 

11. Impose a tax on texting

  • WTF?  Another gem from California, this proposal was quickly abandoned after an outcry. 

12. Develop unnecessary high-speed rail

  • High-speed rail is always “the next big thing.”  In many areas, these rail projects are unwanted, unnecessary, and too costly.  Yet politicians and special interests that stand to gain keep trying.

13. Restrict the availability of ride-sharing services

  • Have you ever used Uber when you were in a rush?  Thanks to New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, you might not be able to do so in his city.

14. Tax popular ride-sharing services to pay for unpopular public transportation

  • It is always difficult to shape individual behavior, but raising taxes on Lyft to inspire more people to use the world’s worst metro system is probably not going to work.  Yet that is what the Washington, D.C. City Council has attempted to do.

15. Enact pharmaceutical price controls

  • Price controls, sometimes modeled on the healthcare systems of countries with socialized medicine, lead to less innovation, fewer drugs brought to the market, and worse outcomes for patients most in need.  Instead of restricting price, states should put pressure on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clear its backlog of new medicines. 

16. Pretend that there are no differences between smoking and vaping

  • According to Britain’s National Health Service, vaping is about 95 percent safer than smoking.  Thanks to vaping, millions have been able to quit cigarettes and shift to much less harmful products.  Amazingly, some states want to treat innovative reduced risk products the same way cigarettes are treated by taxes, regulations, and age restrictions.  That would be a public health disaster. 

17. Shell out money for sports stadiums

  • Unless you like paying for the vanity projects of billionaire NFL owners, you should not want your tax dollars used for the construction of sports stadiums.  And who knows, maybe the team will move in a few years anyway.

18. Attempt to undermine the Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision

  • The Supreme Court in June 2018 freed public sector workers from financially supporting unions with which they did not wish to associate.  Now, legislators in several states are pushing bills meant to undercut this decision.  Perhaps the worst was a bill in Hawaii to force taxpayers to compensate unions directly for any loss in revenue.

19. Attempt to undermine the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2017 order repealing Net Neutrality

  • The FCC’s December 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order was a decisive step towards an internet that is regulated with a light touch.  It was in this environment that the internet became the transformative engine of economic growth that revolutionized personal and commercial life.  The Net Neutrality regulations imposed in 2015 led to a complex maze of regulations that cost service providers millions of dollars, leaving less money available for broadband investment in underserved areas.  Those top-down regulations put more power in the hands of Washington, D.C.  The sky has not fallen since they were repealed December 2017, and states like California should stop trying to undermine this appropriate FCC decision with publicity stunts.