MADISON, Wis. – A conservative lawmaker wants an audit conducted of all state programs that use federal funds — and the ultimate costs federal obligations place on state and local freedom.
State Sen. David Craig sent a letter Tuesday to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee requesting it direct the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a “comprehensive audit of all state programs which receive or utilize federal funds.”
The Town of Vernon Republican wants a review of the “federal requirements, regulations, and restrictions which bind the usage of those (federal) funds and tie the hands of our state government officials, local officials, and limits the freedom of our constituents.”
Craig asks the audit bureau to consider:
- The cost of compliance and freedom lost by the state agency and local officials due to regulation.
- The estimated savings that could be realized should a regulation be lifted or lessened.
- The cost of compliance and loss of freedom born by the citizens of the state as a result of the regulation.
A Tax Foundation review found that in fiscal year 2013 a combined 30 percent of state revenues nationally were derived from federal grants-in-aid. That included everything from federal Medicaid payments and education funding assistance to cash for infrastructure projects and housing grants.
The study found federal grants-in-aid to state and local governments reached $600 billion per year.
“How much states receive in federal aid, and how reliant they are on such assistance, can vary widely,” the Tax Foundation noted in its study.
Mississippi topped the dependency list in fiscal year 2013, deriving nearly 43 percent of its revenue from federal assistance. Louisiana was next at 41.9 percent, followed by Tennessee (39.5 percent).
Wisconsin ranked 36th in the nation, with 27.7 percent of revenue coming from federal sources, according to the Tax Foundation.
North Dakota was least dependent, at 19 percent, followed by Hawaii (21.5 percent), and Alaska (22.4 percent).
Such dependency creates obligations that can be costly for state and local governments, particularly in funding areas such as transportation and health care. In essence, the federal government demands that state and local governments follow costly rules and procedures or risk losing a portion or all of the federal dollars.
“As part of the on-going efforts to return powers and flexibilities back to the states though our (legislative) Federalism Committee, I am seeking additional information to identify the areas which would lift the burden of federal government regulations and mandates so the committee can craft reforms which will bring efficiency to our state government and liberty our citizens,” Craig wrote in the letter to state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, and Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem, co-chairs of the Joint Audit Committee.
For too long, Craig wrote, the federal government has “seized powers reserved for the states” under the Ninth and Tenth amendments to the Constitution.
“An endeavor of the Senate Committee on Financial Services, Constitution & Federalism is to assist our state in returning these powers to our state and our citizens,” the senator wrote.