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SMI Commentary: Three Ideas for Smaller Government in Missouri

February 17th, 2009 by mopns · No Comments

As the federal government prepares an unprecendented takeover of the private economy today, Show Me Institute policy analyst David Stokes offers a commentary with ideas on how to shrink Missouri’s government.

By David Stokes

There are many potential ways to reduce the size and influence of government in Missouri. For each, at least one — and probably many more — entrenched interest stands in the way of implementation. Some of those interests genuinely believe that a larger role for government would benefit their communities — an unfortunate and erroneous, but at least honest, opinion. Others keenly wish to reduce government, except for the pet causes that are important to that particular interest. As interest groups accumulate, each with its own list of exceptions, it becomes difficult to reduce government at all. Building from this premise, following are three proposals to reduce the size and scope of Missouri government.

Missouri could stand to have fewer counties. We currently have 114, plus the independent city of Saint Louis. This is the fourth highest total out of all 50 states. Sixty of these counties contain fewer than 20,000 residents, and 26 have fewer than 10,000. Analysis demonstrates that Missouri’s smaller counties spend more per resident in providing the same basic levels of service. The curve levels out at approximately 15,000 residents, as efficiencies of scale emerge. Missouri’s leaders and the citizens in smaller counties should strongly consider merging, in order to save taxpayer funds and reduce percapita levels of government employment. I do not recommend that the state mandate consolidation, but officials could include incentives to promote county mergers when disbursing aid to local governments.

Missouri could also reduce the number of state representatives, which, at 163 members in its lower body, is again the fourth highest in the country. Read more…

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Tags: David Stokes · Show Me Institute

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  • 1 Doug Burlison // Feb 17, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    This is an idea that is being discussed more often in Springfield/Greene County now that intense budgetary pressures are upon us. The reduction in overhead by consolidating two very similar levels of gov’t could lead to savings for the taxpayer, and a greater level of performance for what local governments should focus on; public safety and infrastructure.

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