Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 – 7:54 am

The Bee has published an online database about lobbying expenditures during the 2011-12 legislative session totaling $564 million, up about 5 percent from the previous two-year period.

That sounds like a lot of money, which it is for anyone not a billionaire. And you could add another $200 million or so in campaign contributions.

Even so, money spent to influence politics pales in comparison to the stakes.

The state alone spends more than $300 billion a year from all sources – including taxes, federal funds, borrowed money and pension funds, the Department of Insurance oversees an industry that takes in and pays out more than $100 billion a year, and the Public Utilities Commission regulates over $50 billion a year in utility charges.

Just those specific categories mean that the ratio of what state government spends and controls to what interest groups spend on political action each year approaches 1,000-to-1. But of course lobbyists deal with more than spending and rate-setting.

Local governments and their unions are among the most active employers of lobbyists in the Capitol because the former, including school districts, are also big spenders – at $300 billion a year, about the same as state government.

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