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that are doing the right thing, and you sound as if you have a great interest and passion in doing the right thing and have been doing some good things.
Governor WHITMAN. Well, Congressman, I have to tell you that the concern I have is when I hear things like a little more control and management. We have spent a long time in New Jersey in developing our core standards in seven academic areas that I mentioned before, and they are very comprehensive. I would be very upset if the Federal Government told me I couldn't get Federal money if I didn't change those standards to meet something that the Federal Government had come up with, and almost every State that I know-it doesn't matter whether the Governor is Republican or Democrat; Jim Hunt has been at the forefront of educational processes. They have made real changes within their State educational systems and structures in order to enhance the education to our kids, and while the Federal Government, I believe, has the potential for a wonderful role of bringing in a lot of information, what are we competing against? What is happening in Japan and Germany? That is where our kids are going to have they are going to have to be as smart as kids anywhere in the world, and each State can't reinvent that or do all the research that is necessary to find out how we continue to keep our standards at a world-class level, and that is where the Federal Government can help. Obviously, the Federal Government can help with dollars, it always can, but when they come with too much prescription that requires that you can only have certain kind of class days or class sizes or certain types of standards, that is when it starts to get away from what I think we have all thought education should be, is that the local determine with some overarching policy that ensures that children are getting the kind of education that will enable them to compete in the 21st century.
So, as you look at this, my real concern is, well, I don't believe we should ever get dollars at the State level that come with nothing; just spend it on anything you want. I don't expect that to happen; I don't think it would be appropriate.
Mr. FORD. You are the first Governor to say that; we ought to mark that down, Mr. Chairman.
Governor WHITMAN. Well, it is something I have said over and over, and I wouldn't expect anything less from a responsible Congress, but I would also urge you to understand that the varieties not just between States but within school districts within States is such that it is very difficult to come up with Federal standards that aren't going to end up causing us to spend more time and more money just filling out papers and trying to reconfigure education to fit those molds than really making a difference in the classroom for the child.
Mr. FORD. Thank you, Governor; thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to welcome the Governor, and, Mr. Chairman, I have a statement I will ask to be put in the record. Thank you.
Mr. BURTON. Without objection.
Statement of Rep. Dennis Kucinich
April 14, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing on tax reform in the states. I agree that we, in Congress, can learn a lot from governors and other state and local government officials. I'm sure that there are a number of Democratic governors, in addition to the Republican governors that we are hearing from today, who could also teach us a thing or two about cutting taxes in a responsible way without jeopardizing the important services that our states provide to their residents.
I also hope that when we hear from these distinguished govemors today, we will keep in mind why these tax cuts are possible. Under the Clinton Administration, we are experiencing the longest peacetime economic expansion in history. With strong economic growth comes increased tax revenues. And higher tax revenues means that states have extra money with which to offer tax cuts.
Even with tax cuts, April 15 will still not so lovingly referred to as "tax day." Many Americans will stay up late filling out their tax forms and writing their checks. And I believe that this burden -- the paperwork burden -- also needs to be addressed.
The paperwork burden placed on the American taxpayer by the IRS is nearly 80% of the total paperwork burden imposed by the federal government. Unfortunately, over the last 3 years, the IRS paperwork burden has increased by 7.5%.
It is my understanding that much of the increase is due to our actions here in Congress. For instance, Congress passed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 -- an initiative originally proposed as part of the Republican Contract with America -- which cuts capital gains, estate, and gift taxes. The IRS estimates that these changes increased the paperwork burden by over 64 million hours. Similarly, last year, we passed the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act with my support -- which prohibits politically motivated audits, creates an oversight board and Taxpayer Advocate, and creates and strengthens taxpayers rights when dealing with the IRS. However, this initiative also increased the paperwork burden by another 92 million hours. These two changes, alone, account for more than 1% of the 7.5% burden increase we have seen over the last 3 years.
Much of the remaining increase may be due to the increased economic activity in our booming national economy. Furthermore, the methodology for estimating the paperwork burden may not be giving enough credit for the time saved by the increase in the use of electronic and telephone filing. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses who can provide further insight into underlying causes of the increased paperwork burden.
Thank you, again, for holding this hearing and I look forward to the testimony.
Mr. BURTON. Governor Whitman, you have been an excellent witness, and you sure know your facts, and we really appreciate that. You have been a big help. You have proved your critics incorrect when you got elected and cut taxes and stimulated economic growth in your State, and you are to be congratulated, and I will look forward to working with you in the future.
We will stand in recess until this afternoon when we will hear from Governor Huckabee.
Governor WHITMAN. Wonderful, thank you very much for the opportunity; I appreciate it.
Mr. BURTON (presiding). Governor Huckabee, welcome. Sorry for the delay. We have, on the floor, one of our census bills, and, as a result, we have a number of our Members who are members of our subcommittee that are down there debating and discussing that issue, because it is very controversial. It involves allowing local mayors and local officials to have a voice in the census, and so you will see Members coming in and out, and that is the reason why we don't have a lot of Members. On the Democrat side, I don't think they are of a mind to give a lot of credence to what our Republican Governors are saying, so that is why you won't see a lot of those Members.
Before I yield to my colleague for your introduction, Governor, we really appreciate you testifying, and your information will be regarded by all the Members as very important, for the record.
Governor Huckabee was the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas in July 1996 and became Governor when Jim “Guy" Tucker, resigned, and, as you said in your news conference with us awhile ago, you are the first Governor, I guess, in history to cut taxes, and I am sure that was popular, and we are very happy about that. I would like to tell you, Governor, that in addition to having some very fine representatives from Arkansas representing your State, this fellow right here is from Magnolia, AR, and he is one of our strong right arms on the committee, and he does a great job. He told me to tell you that. I don't know why. Maybe he has political ambitions. (Laughter.]
And, with that, let me just say, I want to welcome you to the committee. We appreciate you being here. I know it is a big imposition for you to come all the way from Arkansas, and, with that, let me introduce Asa Hutchinson to welcome you.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate this privilege and express my greetings to Jay Dickey, my colleague, who is at the table as well. I am delighted to have this opportunity to introduce my friend and the Governor of our State, Mike Huckabee. I want to congratulate you first for the outstanding session that you just completed that drew bipartisan praise from all areas for the leadership that you provided in passing a much needed highway program, providing tax relief initiatives I know that you will talk about, including deregulation of the electric industry, and more realistic laws dealing with teen violence. You are dealing with the same issues that we are trying to address here in Congress, but you have had a very successful session, and all of those were achieved under a balanced budget.
I have known Governor Huckabee since he first entered public life. From the beginning, Governor Huckabee demonstrated leadership and personal strength in his service to the people of Arkansas. This was apparent during the turbulent days and the transition after the resignation of former Governor Jim "Guy" Tucker when then Lieutenant Governor Mike Huckabee avoided a constitutional crisis by his firm and principled address to the people of Arkansas leading us out of that unfortunate circumstance, and since that time, the Governor has led a number of successful and innovative initiatives into law. I think that his success shows that by applying a little common sense to the everyday function of government, we can, in fact, provide better services with less bureaucracy and lower taxes.
During his tenure, Governor Huckabee has overseen a comprehensive tax relief package that we are unaccustomed to seeing in Arkansas that included as one of his initiatives the elimination of the marriage penalty. This is a goal that we have been pursuing here in Congress, and I am greatly interested in hearing the Governor's insights on this matter.
Again, Governor, I congratulate you on providing better government services at lower taxpayer cost. That should be the goal of everyone who works in government, and I and my colleagues look forward to hearing from you about which way we, in Congress, might incorporate some of the initiatives that you have been so successful in in Arkansas. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BURTON. Thank you, Representative Hutchinson. And, with that, Governor, welcome, and we would enjoy hearing your remarks.
STATEMENT OF MIKE HUCKABEE, GOVERNOR, ARKANSAS Governor HUCKABEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to say to you and the members of the committee a special thanks for giving me the opportunity. Quite frankly, hearing that wonderful introduction was worth the trip to Washington, and if my good friend and colleague will promise to give it again, I may show up again.
I am really proud of my home State and particularly proud of two of our Congressmen that I call friends, very close friends while I have campaigned and worked and been able to see some things happen with Arkansas. Asa Hutchinson and Jay Dickey who sits here today I hope as my friend and colleague. Having watched many hearings on television, I expect him to whisper in my ear and tell me what I am supposed to say as we go through this hearing today.
I do want to express that as we approach tomorrow and what is not so, perhaps, popularly known as tax day, many Americans will be reaching for their checkbooks and also for their antacids, recognizing that it is going to be time to once again face the music of that tax system in our country.
In the States, we have been able to bring about some things that we hope will happen in epidemic proportion across the country, and that is a real sense of bringing fairness back to the American family. I would like to try to remind people in talking of tax cuts that it is really a matter of shifting the power from government to families and from government to individuals, because tax cuts are real
ly not just an economic issue; they are an issue about giving people the power to spend the money that they, in fact, have gone out and worked very hard to earn in the first place.
I sometimes get amazed that government can operate in what amounts to, at times, a vacuum, and, in our State, one of the things that we have done to try to combat that is to require every one in the executive branch of government who has a job at policy level or above to get out and go to work one-half day every month in some State agency in which their particular has a relationship. That includes, by the way, the Governor, and over the past 242 years in my tenure as Governor, I have worked at the counter of a tourist information center and passed out literature to guests who were coming into our State, some of whom were rather surprised to find that the person behind the counter passing out brochures and maps was, in fact, the Governor. I think they thought that maybe it was a moonlighting job for me, but it was quite an experience.
I have also spent time being an intake worker at a local Department of Human Services office, literally talking to welfare moms and taking down the information over the telephone or in person that would become part of their entry level form.
I have spent time at a Department of Finance and Administration counter making driver's licenses and photographing people for their driver's license, and it was that particular experience that led us to make a major change in the process by which people get car tags in Arkansas, a process that we would like to say was invented by the Flintstones; it had never been approved until 2 years ago when we changed the system from the most cumbersome, time-consuming, bothersome process in the whole world, one that was cursed by every Arkansan at the time of renewal, to the countries most efficient and technologically advanced system that truly has created a whole new way of doing things through the Internet or a touch-tone telephone without ever leaving one's home, instead of the seven pieces of paper that were required to be obtained from six different locations prior to getting a car tag. And the interesting thing is that we were able to make the significant changes in efficiency and do it and cut the cost of it by at least a dollar for Arkan
I have also spent time checking licenses on the Little Red River in Arkansas with wildlife enforcement officers in a variety of duties. Enrolling students in the University of Arkansas has been another one of my job assignments.
But in every one of those, what I have learned is that government, in order to be more efficient, needs to understand that its basic purpose is not to see how much money it can make and take, but rather to see how much money it can give back to its citizens and leave in their hands to being with.
When I became Governor in 1996, there had never been a significant tax cut in the history of our State. I will never forget the conversation that I had with our director of finance administration, and as we were preparing for the session, I said, “Richard, tell me, how many times have we had a tax cut in Arkansas?” He looked at me; he looked at his deputy; he looked back at me, and he said, "Well, Governor, we have never had one." Well, in 1997, we finally