When Spending Tax Dollars, Government Should Maximize Value, Minimize Cost

By Sam Herrin

“More money, same result” is what Oregon’s Senate voted for this March. Now, the bill enters a different chamber, but faces a similar fate.

If passed, Senate Bill 442 allows government contractors to grant preferences to in-state bidders if the “goods or services cost not more than five percent more than [out of state] goods or services.”

Normally, when the government uses taxpayer dollars to purchase goods or services, it grants favor to the lowest bidder who offers an acceptable quality. This is similar to different retailers competing for your business. When faced with two equal-quality goods, you will usually choose the “lowest bidder.”

But sometimes, you might buy local to “help the environment” or “support local businesses.” That’s fine; it’s your choice. But when the government is spending your tax dollars, their main concern should be maximizing benefits while minimizing costs, not some version of their arbitrary goals. Under this bill, bureaucratic preferences triumph. The government is forcing you to buy local.

If the state government wants to prove they have Oregonians’ best interests in mind, they should vote ‘NAY’ on Senate Bill 442.

Sam Herrin is a Research Associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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