Though many reforms are needed regarding the amount of money government spends, changes should also be made to how the money is spent by implementing program-based budgeting.
Currently lawmakers drafting the budget use a technique known as “strategy-based budgeting.” Rather than listing individual and specific line-items of spending for each agency, budget-writers simply assign broad “strategies” or goals they want that particular agency or department to spend the allotted cash on.
As a result, taxpayers are often left guessing as to how exactly those agencies use their funds to accomplish that “strategy” or goal, while also wondering whether the methods chosen by bureaucrats are the most effective.
If legislators were interested in being more transparent with taxpayers, they would instead use a “program-based” budgeting system, where taxpayers would see specific line-items for each program that is authorized and funded.
Program-based budgeting would allow budget writers to better account for spent tax dollars, root out inefficiencies in the state budget, and justify each agency and program is necessary to taxpayers.
Not only would this change result in taxpayers becoming more empowered to hold legislators accountable for wasteful spending, it would also allow the governor greater opportunity to veto specific expenditures, rather than risk vetoing spending for an entire agency.
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