If state government is going to operate more effectively and efficiently – at least, in theory, a requirement in a time of tight financial resources – then there are least three questions policymakers should ask as they review old and new programs.
1. Is there an appropriate role for state government to play?
This is a question seldom asked, at least on the record. Many policymakers simply assume if there is a problem, there should be a state response to it. The evidence is found in the 3,500 to 5,000 bills introduced every regular legislative session.
If the question was asked routinely, the answer would not automatically be yes or no, but would depend on the situation. Often, the simple act of asking the question and considering the answer would be a step in the right direction of aligning state government programs to available resources. Policymakers should reserve the right to say there is no appropriate role for state government in, for example, a battle between two business groups.
A yes would be a stronger yes that we need to organize health care for indigent Oregonians or offer financial and parenting support for single mothers and their children.