posted on August 17, 2012 15:10
Guest Tapster blogger Joe Stewart writes:
People don't want more government or less government, they want just enough government and no more.
I heard then-president Bill Clinton say that during his visit to North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Fran in 1996, when I was legislative liaison in the NC Department Crime Control and Public Safety. His words came in response to the comment of a local elected official (Democrat) about how some of their counterparts (Republicans) who had 'all campaigned on less government' seemed mighty comfortable with asking for as much in federal disaster aid as they could get for their city or county. In truth, it would be just about impossible for any state to refuse federal assistance to get back on their feet after a major storm.
Throughout my career - which has included stints in the public sector as well as in the private sector - I have seen how government can do good for people in need, and how government can get in the way through ill-conceived laws and unnecessarily burdensome regulations. However, I (and I suspect most folks would agree) do believe that in the same way citizens and businesses count on government to respond to and provide recovery from devastating natural disasters, there are some things government must provide - and even some things ONLY government can provide.
Republican legislative leaders are talking now about the need to return in 2013 with making state government smaller as one of their topic priorities. But what I hope 'making state government smaller' means is an effort to make state government more efficient and effective, and thus less costly to operate in the long run while providing greater value to those served.
Creating greater efficiency and effectiveness cannot be achieved simply by cutting (smaller always means less, but may not always mean better), but by engaging the new governor and the Council of State, and the judicial branch in a serious conversation that puts everything on the table for consideration, including whether the current state personnel system is allowing agencies to attract and retain those with the skills and abilities we need to run a 21st Century state government.