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New state government growth figures

Every year right after the general legislative session, the Legislative Fiscal Analyst releases a State Budget Overview. Here are some sobering numbers from the current year and previous years' State Budget Overview.

- In the past two years, state spending from general sources (excludes federal sources, dedicated credits) has grown 38.8%. Including all sources of revenue, spending has increased 24.3% in two years.

- In the past four years, state spending from general sources has grown 67%, or 13.7% annualized. Total state spending has increased 45.4%, or 9.8% annualized.

All of these numbers will most likely be adjusted upward once supplemental appropriations for FY2008 are determined next year.

Defenders of government growth argue that much of the increase in state spending is due to "one-time" expenditures such as roads and buildings, and taxpayers should not be worried about this. However, taxpayers should be concerned about so-called one-time expenditures

- One-time expenditures are still tax dollars.

- Increased expenditures for roads and buildings lead to higher ongoing expenditures since these new roads and buildings require annual appropriations for maintenance and operation.

- This year's "one-time" expenditures will be replaced by new "one-time" expenditures next year. This is especially true for roads. State leaders anticipate spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on roads, eventually billions of dollars per year. When did "one-time" expenditure evolve into annual expenditure?

While using cash for capital projects such as roads serves as good "working" rainy day (if projected government revenues don't materialize, then government can issue bonds for the project and use the freed-up cash to cover operations in other parts of the budget), let's not pretend that these expenditures aren't growing government.