Grassroot Perspective – March 24, 2003-Secretary Thompson Rejects Tobacco Tax Hike Proposal; SBSC President Testifies On the Regulatory Burden Facing Small Business; SBSC Favors Financial Disclosure and Transparency for Big Labor; Junk Science to Cost Small Business Owners; A Policy Guide for Budget Reform

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”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Secretary Thompson Rejects Tobacco Tax Hike Proposal

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson this week rejected a proposal by the Health and Human Services’ Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health for a $2 per pack increase in the federal cigarette tax.

Testifying before the House Budget Committee this week (February 27),
Thompson said “We are not contemplating it. This administration does not raise taxes,” Reuters quoted HHS spokesman Bill Pierce as saying the department had never considered the idea of the tax, despite the committee’s recommendation. “The secretary, in response to that recommendation, said we are not contemplating it,” Pierce said in a telephone interview.

SBSC President Darrell McKigney praised Secretary Thompson for rejecting the advisory committee’s proposal: “The advisory committee came up with a truly bad recommendation, and we are grateful that Secretary Thompson has put a stop to it. This is very good news for small businesses.”

To read more, please click here:

– SBSC President Testifies On the Regulatory Burden Facing Small

SBSC President Darrell McKigney testified this week at a roundtable
discussion hosted by House Small Business Subcommittee on Regulatory
Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Edward Schrock (R-VA). The
roundtable included several small business & trade groups who were
invited to discuss the impact of regulations on their members. This is the latest effort by Chairman Schrock who has been taking a lead role in the fight to bring common sense to the federal regulatory system.

“Of course, what makes regulatory costs truly insidious is that they
remain difficult for the average American to clearly see. Individuals
can see a smaller paycheck due to income taxes, or a jump in the price of a product due to sales taxes, but higher prices, smaller paychecks, and fewer opportunities as a result of an excessive regulatory burden seem less tangible and, therefore, less real,” McKigney remarked in comments presented to the committee.

To read McKigney’s full comments, go to

– SBSC Favors Financial Disclosure and Transparency for Big Labor

On Feb. 25, SBSC filed brief comments with the Department of Labor on
proposed rulemaking calling for greater financial disclosure and
transparency by labor unions. This would benefit union members and

To read SBSC’s comments, go to:

– Junk Science to Cost Small Business Owners

Small business beware — the EPA is at it again. This time they want to ban the treated wood commonly used for decks and playground equipment despite a lack of evidence of it posing an unreasonable risk to public health. Steve Milloy looks at this issue for Fox News Channel. To read his analysis, please click here:,2933,78551,00.html

Above articles are quoted from Small Business Survival Committee, SBSC Weekly Briefing Feb. 27, 2003

”Root (Food for Thought)”

A Policy Guide for Budget Reform

Strategies for Improving State Government Services and Reducing the

By Eric Montague, Policy Analyst

State legislators face a serious budget deficit for the biennium
starting in 2003. Unlike last year, however, this year’s deficit is not a surprise. A faltering economy, coupled with band-aide solutions
enacted in the last session, leave the state with a biennial budget
shortfall projected to reach $2.4 billion.

The deficit is not the result of lower tax revenues. Revenues are
projected to increase by $1.5 billion, or 7.6%, in the next biennium.
Similarly, spending is projected to rise from $22.5 billion in 2001-03, to $24.7 billion in 2003-05. Rather, the deficit is the result of revenues not growing as fast as officials had predicted, creating a shortfall in the level of planned spending increase.

Controlling government spending is essential to eliminating recurring
deficits. A new Policy Brief from Washington Policy Center presents
practical policy changes that will reap immediate savings, improve the quality of public services, and reduce long-term structural costs. Below are some of the main findings.

*Restore Limits on Spending Growth: The legislature ended spending controls enacted by the people under Initiative 601, thus contributing to the deficit. Returning to effective spending limits would bring greater discipline to public finances and help restore trust in government.

*Eliminate Positions Vacant More than Six Months: Hundreds of state government positions exist only on paper. If a staff slot has been vacant six months, it’s fairly clear the agency can do its work without an employee in that position.

*Adopt a Five-Year Sunset Review for all Boards and Commissions: Many of the 406 state boards and commissions have outlived their original purpose and should be allowed to expire. A regular five-year review would allow the legislature to renew those that are still needed.

*Implement “Gainsharing” Employee Incentive Program: Gainsharing allows agencies to share with employees 50 percent of the savings from efficiency improvements, thus lowering costs and rewarding good ideas from front-line workers.

*Use Performance-Based Contracting: Performance-based contracting has proven successful in other states, including Tennessee, which saved $10 million through new consulting contracts.

*Sell Non-Essential Real Estate Holdings: State government owns 9 percent of the land in Washington and can generate additional revenue by selling non-essential properties.

*Allow the State Auditor to Conduct Performance Audits: Performance audits in other states have saved billions of dollars, and have helped to restore taxpayer confidence in government.

*Eliminate Costly Prevailing Wage Regulations: Normally market forces determine the prevailing price of labor, not a pre-determined, government-fixed price. By interfering in the natural movements of the market the government artificially drives up its own costs.

*Competitively Contract Highway Maintenance: An independent study estimates the state could save $25 million by competitively contracting for highway maintenance.

*Legalize Private Passenger Ferries: The state plans to cancel passenger ferry service on June 15th. If the state won’t do it, it should at least allow private companies to offer the service.

*Allow Private Firms or Non-Profits to Manage State Parks: Allowing competition for contracts to manage state parks would improve efficiency for an agency that is closing parks and is increasingly constrained by budget pressures.

*Competitively Contract for Prison Health Care Services: In 24 states inmate health care is provided by private contractors, generally with lower costs and improved quality of care.

*Allow Private Companies to Build and Manage State Prisons: The experience of other states shows private contractors can build and operate a prison for 10% to 25% less, with no reduction in the quality of corrections services.

*Privatize State Liquor Stores: Private sector sales would bring better service and wider choice for consumers, freeing the Liquor Control Board to focus on public health and safety.

*Rescind the Governor’s New Ergonomics Rules: The new rules are the most restrictive in the nation, requiring employers to count, for example, how often employees lift ten pounds, or bend their necks forty-five degrees. Penalties on employers reach $70,000 per infraction.

*Open a Government Services Contribution Fund: Citizens who feel the government needs more revenue could first pay voluntarily into a public fund before advocating higher taxes on their neighbors.

*Eliminate the Presidential Primary: In 2000 the state spent $5.2 million on the presidential primary, although neither party used the results to select most of its delegates.

*Adopt a Constitutionally-Protected Emergency Reserve Fund: A tightly-controlled reserve fund, protected by constitutional safeguards, will shield state services against unexpected shortfalls.

If adopted, these budget reforms will promote government efficiency, improve services to the public, and limit the high tax burden shouldered by citizens and businesses. They will also help ensure future economic downturns do not force our state into yet another budget crisis, and will build public trust by demonstrating the government’s ability to live within its means.

Above is quoted from Washington Policy Center, Policy Note,

”Evergreen (Today’s Quotes)”

“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” — Allan K. Chalmers

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” — Seneca

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’