When Income Tax Day came around this year, and I contemplated how much of my income was going to Washington, I became curious. Which branch of the government, that I pay taxes to, was most out of control?
By going to the Payson Town Hall, Globe, Phoenix, and the Statistical Abstract of the U.S., I was able to secure figures on the total actual expenditures of the Town of Payson, Gila County, the State of Arizona and the U.S. government, for the years from 1983 through 1998.
I then took the populations of the same four government entities for the same period of time. From these figures I developed the attached chart, showing the per capita cost of government for each of the four entities, for the same time period.
The State of Arizona wins the big spender award by a wide margin. During the 15 years covered in the study, the total cost of state government went from $856 per person to $2,336 per person, or an increase of 173 percent.
The Town of Payson was second in the increased spending race with an increase of 93 percent, in spending per capita, over the same 15 years. The Federal government was third with an increase of 80 percent, and finally Gila County was the most careful with our money with an increase of 46 percent.
The increased cost of government for the State of Arizona, the Town of Payson and the Federal government all increased faster than the Consumer Price Index, which rose 61 percent during these 15 years.
All four government units increased faster than the Producer Price Index - excluding food. This rose 27 percent during these 15 years. The Food Price Index rose 58 percent, or less than all of the governmental units, except for Gila County.
These figures say to me that the private sector has been doing a better job than most of our government units, in helping us control our increased cost of living.
Each of you can make your own comparison of how your own income has kept pace with increased government spending. Just compare your 1983 income with your 1998 income and see what percent it has increased.
Another way of looking at this is, the total cost of all government expenditures was $10,352 for every citizen of Payson in 1998. For a family of four that was over $41,000. A 10 percent reduction in all government expenditures would effectively give the 13,000 citizens of Payson another $13-1/2 million to spend as they see fit, not as some bureaucracy thinks they want it spent. Or worse yet, not as some bureaucracy thinks it should be spent for their own good.
So I suggest that instead of asking all levels of government to do more for you, that you demand that they do less. At least 10 percent less. Help your elected officials with suggestions as to where you want less expensive government.
Gila County has had a dramatically smaller increase than the other government entities, and I know from sitting through monthly board of supervisors meetings for the past 13 years, that there are places where Gila County could have spent less money.
One word of caution: All the figures used here are based on total government expenditures. Thus they will not be into any tax figures that you see. Total government expenditures are the monies that each governmental unit spends based on all open and hidden taxes, and borrowings in the case of the federal government particularly.
However, no matter where the money comes from, this is the total that each governmental unit spent per person. I am sure that with our help they can spend less. It won't be easy, but it could be worthwhile.
Just think, a 10 percent reduction in all government spending would equate to over $4,000 per year for an average family of four in Payson. Where else are you going to go to find savings like that?