Letter: Blame government overreach for tight budgets

Lately, local governments at all levels are spinning a tale of woe and doom about finances and budgets as a prequel to pushing for more revenue from the state and the local taxpayers within their respective jurisdictions.

Many of the claims of state “disinvestment” in local government are suspect when all revenue sources are examined. However, one fact seems undisputed: for all of the hand-wringing over tight budgets, local governments seem intent to grow themselves through new adventures in creative regulation.

Many of the same local governments that are struggling to provide basic services such as police, fire and schools seem to have all the time and money necessary to micromanage how employers schedule their workers, what they pay them and what benefits they provide. Some have also decided that they should raise the age at which a person is allowed to purchase tobacco products and charge a fee for the use of a plastic bag.

In addition to trying to figure out and comply with what the state and federal government already requires, citizens and small business owners unfortunate enough to be within the borders of these local fiefdoms now have to please the local bureaucrats.

While the public good is always the excuse for these forays into new regulatory frontiers, one has to wonder if the real motivation is the potential revenue from fines, fees and licenses that inevitably accompany the new local rules of conduct. The prospects of growing the local government employee labor force in order to police and collect the fines from new local ordinances is also an incentive when one considers that those so employed are likely to vote for the public servants that provided the jobs via the local regulations.

It is hard to take any local government seriously that complains about a lack of funds when they have bloated themselves and their budgets by duplicating regulations and policies that are more appropriately the venue of state and federal governance.

Charles Owens, Michigan Director

National Federation of Independent Business