The Oscars are still a month away, so here are a few awards to tide you over. Drum roll, please. The winners of the Golden Turkey Award for taxpayer-funded lobbying are the Department of Transportation, Maricopa County, and the City of Tucson. In Arizona, these three government bodies are the top-spenders of tax dollars on lobbyists. And while they may be winners of the Golden Turkey Award, the losers are Arizona taxpayers.
Theres no doubt about it, taxpayer-funded lobbying is a growth industry. For example, the Biomedical Research Commission increased its lobbying expenses ten-fold from 2000 to 2005. And the three state universities increased their reported lobbying expenditures more 125 percent during that time.
As more and more taxpayer-funded lobbyists roam the capitol, the voice of the average citizen becomes harder and harder to hear. Government lobbyists now outnumber legislators ten to one.
Lawmakers should revoke the backstage passes that government lobbyists have been given and prohibit lobbying with taxpayer dollars.
Benjamin Barr is the constitutional policy analyst at the Goldwater Institute.
-Goldwater Institute: Your Tax Dollars at Work: The Implications of Taxpayer-funded Lobbying
-Insider Online: Taxpayer-funded Lobbying: Taxman vs. Taxpayer
-Americans for Prosperity: Taxpayer Funded Lobbying: A National Problem