Rightsizing state government: sometimes this charge can seem a bit ambiguous. And, in fact, since the committee was formed it has approached trimming government in a variety of ways. After assuming the chairmanship of the committee on Downsizing State Government, I began reflecting on the methods utilized previously by the committee in order to hone the committee's future endeavors. The areas below are a quick snapshot of the public policy arenas we may be reviewing, investigating, and considering improvements within.
Those who founded this state knew early on that an unchecked bureaucracy could give rise to practices that were less than efficient and in some cases wasteful, abusive, or even outright illegal. To address this concern, our state's constitution provides for a full-time executive branch position dedicated to rooting out inefficiency and fraud. The state auditor's authority is outlined in the constitution and reinforced by statute. Going forward, careful consideration will be given to ensure that this office can perform effectively, proficiently, and expeditiously. To the extent that legislative changes are necessary, they will be considered.
In most cases, the executive branch is given broad authority to implement programs and govern its own operations. This is achieved by allowing for "rules" to be proposed, considered, passed, and enforced by the executive branch. These are not "laws" per se, but they carry the full force of the law and, if not followed, can lead to legal action against individuals or entities. In the event, however, that those rules become antithetical to economic growth, prosperity, and the individual liberty guaranteed by the constitutions of both our United States and Missouri, the legislature can and should consider addressing the citizenry's concerns.
In the course of Missouri's history, the need for certain statutes may become irrelevant. One of the first endeavors of the Downsizing State Government committee after its formation was to conduct a thorough review of existing statute and to repeal those which, because of time or other circumstance, were no longer necessary. Should continued review be necessary, the committee may literally shrink the size of the state's written laws by eliminating those which are obsolete.
Furthermore, the committee has taken time to hear from citizens who feel that certain existing laws are too onerous or have unintended consequences that are antithetical to their purpose or have too adverse of an impact on communities, families, organizations, or individuals. I continueto be willing to consider these types of policy considerations.
Though elected officials often find plenty to disagree on as a far as policies and programs go, nearly all would agree that in whatever the state "does" it should do so efficiently. While auditing finds where government is inefficient after the fact, I believe the legislature should also consider and advance policy proposals that are aimed at stymying waste before the auditing process. The committee will be endeavoring this year to identify best practices in the realms of certain state operations to identify opportunities to consolidate and collaborate.
These diverse approaches are all ways to "shrink" state government. If you have suggestions for the committee's consideration, I would encourage you to utilize this website to submit your idea(s).
-Representative Paul Curtman