Greenberg: No to Annual Legislative Sessions
Arkansas Project contributor Dan Greenberg (he’s the second most popular of our stable of regular contributors) is apparently saving his “A” material for more esteemed publications, as he takes to the pages of today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to argue against Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2.
Amendment 2, you may be aware, is on the ballot to allow the state legislature to meet annually, instead of the current biennial sessions. Greenberg argues, in essence, that the road to hell is paved with annual sessions:
Annual sessions will also lead to big government in Arkansas. Political scientists have demonstrated what everybody knows: the longer legislatures are in session, the more legislation they produce—which generally leads to bigger, more expensive and more complex government.
States with full-time legislatures generally rank near the top of the list of biggest per-person taxers and spenders. In contrast, our neighborhood state of Texas—which, like Arkansas, has a legislature that only meets every other year—is consistently near the bottom of the list when ranked by per-person taxing and spending.
Rep. Eric Harris (R) provides a countervailing perspective in the same pages.
5 thoughts on “Greenberg: No to Annual Legislative Sessions”
Greenberg has the right answer for the right reasons IMO.
It is sad that we have “Republicans”, who are supposed to be for smaller government, supporting this amendment. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the more days they’re in session the more per diem they’ll receive. Thank you Dan for your leadership on this and other issues conservatives care about.
I’m still undecided on this one, so maybe Dan can chime in on this to give me some guidance. I agree with many of his points and am no fan of big government. However, the way the state budget is currently written is laughable, with a few people controlling everything and in all reality, getting their will. If we opened the budgeting process with a session maybe that would improve the process? What alternative (other than annual sessions) is their to the current way our budget is written?
You deserve a longer answer, but I’m a little pressed for time tonight. What we need is more transparency in state government: specifically, complete openness with respect to all state appropriations and contracts, posted on the Internet so that all citizens can read and search them. (I will be writing and proposing legislation to this effect next session.) We also need a longer waiting period between the time that the Revenue Stabilization Act priorities are announced and the time we vote on them, so that we can take the budget process out of the hands of just a few insiders.
If this amendment simply adds an extra session, but still has only one out of every two years to focus on the budget, how does that make the budgeting process better? If improving the budgeting process is the goal, I don’t see how this would do it. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t studied this a whole lot.