Once again, we have a special legislative session. And once again, newspapers trot out that special session legislative days cost tens of thousands of dollars. So what?
In that post, I offered to correct my calculation that regular legislative session days cost more than $1.1-million each. So far, no takers from either the General Assembly or the Legislative Research Commission. So, again I ask to be corrected if you have an argument to make on that subject. You can send me a note here or here or here.
My point is to illuminate out a deeper problem: Lawmakers have apparently no incentive to prioritize their workload or simply have too much work to do. It takes resources to do the commonwealth’s business. There may be ways to improve the process through legislative rules, but those rules likely aren’t sustainable or they would have been adopted by now. One potential solution to the problem of too many special sessions is to give lawmakers fewer financial decisions to make.
One of the key criticisms from the Mercatus Center’s Freedom in the 50 States is that Kentucky is highly fiscally centralized. Other states don’t funnel nearly as much money through their state lawmakers. How many local projects are included in the Kentucky budget? The bulk of the costs of numerous golf courses, industrial parks, arena renovations, water projects, recreation centers and all sorts of other local matters are too often borne by taxpayers elsewhere in the commonwealth.
The process for devolving local projects to local decisionmakers probably isn’t an easy one, but doing so is critical if we care about lawmakers having a workload that matches their time, energy and abilities.