Among the litany of wasteful items in the president’s FY19 budget request, there is $162.6 million for Regional Development Commissions. Taxpayers for Common Sense applauded the proposed dissolution of Regional Development Commissions in the president’s FY18 “skinny” budget proposal. So you could imagine our disappointment that the administration reversed course and proposes funding for them in the budget request.
The Appalachian Regional Commission was the first, created in 1965 as part of the “Great Society,” and was intended to spur inter-state cooperation in bringing shared regional issues to the attention of the federal government – the need for infrastructure improvements, natural resource development, and social services. The initiative spread to other areas in the country.
In practice, the Regional Development Commissions have proven themselves to be unnecessary middlemen, inefficient in their stewardship of federal dollars. Each of the four commissions – the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Denali Commission, the Northern Border Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority – has exhibited administrative failures in administering their congressional mandates. Furthermore, the Commissions are duplicative of other federal development programs. It makes little sense to elevate certain areas of the country with whole organizations instead of ensuring that existing development programs take it into account different needs across the country. To date, Congress has provided the Regional Development Commissions with billions of dollars in federal funding. It is time to bring this dated and costly inefficacy to an end.