The bill has arrived for all of President Obama's initiatives, from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank banking regulations to school lunches, and state and local governments are choking on the costs and paperwork mandated to comply with new laws, according to a new analysis.

The tab: $35 billion in unfunded regulatory costs and at least 75 million hours of paperwork, according to American Action Forum, the center-right policy institute headed by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

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Obamacare is the biggest pain to state and local governments. The report said that just one element of the health "reform" costs states 27.1 million hours in paperwork mandates and $880 million dollars to pay for that extra work.

That amounts to an average of 251,000 extra hours at a cost of $6.6 million per state, said the report, titled, "The State Share of Unfunded Regulations: Nearly $35 Billion, 75 Million Paperwork Hours."

As a result, states have had to hire paperwork armies to navigate the new laws.


Theirs is an unusual report. Most budget watchdog groups focus on how unfunded mandates and paperwork hit businesses. The Forum's report looks at the hit on governments funded by taxpayers.

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And while their $35 billion tap for all the paperwork is huge, the number is likely larger because the administration claims some of its biggest agenda items don't cost anything, like implementing new school lunch laws, said the Forum. "The administration claimed, and still claims, that a $3.2 billion school lunch regulation does not contain unfunded mandates," said the group.

"Burdens on large corporations and small businesses receive plenty of attention in the regulatory world, but it is states that often to have to carry the heaviest load dealing with federal requirements. At $35 billion and more than 75 million hours from the Obama administration alone, there is a reason that many states employ hundreds of compliance personnel dedicated to navigating red tape," said Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum.

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Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at

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