Every state has its government “dustbunnies,” those agencies, boards, task forces and commissions that seem to linger forever and soak up taxpayer dollars despite having long outlived their purpose (if they even had a legitimate purpose to begin with).
In the absence of an official sunset commission with the responsibility of a periodic review and reauthorization process for such dustbunnies (such as the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which has eliminated over 47 governmental agencies and consolidated another 11 since 1977), it’s generally difficult to muster enough legislative interest or momentum to actually get rid of them. And in those cases, they tend to be one-off efforts—maybe a board here, perhaps a commission a few years later, etc.
So it’s refreshing to see what’s been going on in Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Rep. Mert Smiley have been doing some major spring cleaning. Gov. Jindal has already ordered the termination of 68 such dustbunnies since taking office a year ago, and he announced another batch of 22 yesterday:
Twenty-two state boards and commissions should be abolished because they are no longer active or their functions have been assumed by other state agencies, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday.
The governor told a news conference that he has asked Rep. M.J. “Mert” Smiley, R-St. Amant, to sponsor legislation to abolish panels ranging from the Governor’s Aviation Board to the Louisiana Unmarked Burial Sites Board, both inactive.
Smiley, who has passed legislation in past sessions ending 52 other outdated or inactive boards or commissions, said he thinks he can find about 10 more to add to Jindal’s list.
Jindal said that since he has been governor he has ordered the termination or non-renewal of 68 task forces, boards or commissions.
Jindal could not say how much money would be saved by abolishing the 22 boards, since many do not meet and pay members a daily travel allowance or expenses.
Jindal said the bill is a step toward streamlining “the functions of (state) government wherever possible.”
The Governor’s press release detailing the 22 boards and the rationale for abolishing them is here. IMO, every state should be following Louisiana’s lead here. Government dustbunnies, and their cousin “regulatory dustbunnies” (see: local building codes, state agency rules, etc.), don’t eliminate themselves. Instead they accumulate and fester into what we see as red tape and government sprawl. Since the political process is not designed to keep government sprawl in check, it tends to take leadership of the sort displayed by Gov. Jindal and Rep. Smiley to actually combat it.
I should make one point of clarification for the record. In my mind, competition/government efficiency boards like Florida’s Council on Efficient Government or the proposed efficient government councils in Arizona and Illinois would not fall into the “dustbunny” category. Empowering a state board to shrink and right-size government seems like a pretty darn good use of tax dollars to me.