State must find ways to live with less

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Go back over the years encompassing the second term of former Gov. John Ashcroft as well as the eight years of Gov. Mel Carnahan and the first two years of Gov. Bob Holden's administration.

Over those 14 years, Missouri state government spending increased 289 percent, growing from $6.6 billion to $19.1 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June. That's a growth of $12.5 billion -- $2.5 billion more than inflation during the same period.

Back in 1988, public school spending totaled $1.8 billion, while the Department of Social Services spent $1.2 billion. The figure for the most recently completed fiscal year for public schools is $4.7 billion, while the figure for social services is $5.6 billion. Three other departments have also become billion-dollar spenders over the last 14 years: Higher Education, Revenue and Transportation.

Missourians have watched this spending explosion with dismay and even anger.

A state government that has been given plenty of resources by hard-pressed taxpayers must live within its means, even during the current dip in revenues, rather than demanding higher taxes at every turn.

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