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Committee passes resolution on state spending limit

A State Senate committee Thursday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to limit state spending.

By a 5-1 margin, the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to move SJR 26 to the full Senate for debate. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Brad Lager (R-Savannah), would establish a limit on state appropriations equal to the amount appropriated in the previous year plus any increases in inflation and population.  If revenues exceed the amount that is able to be spent, money would be deposited in a cash-flow account called the cash operating reserve fund and a savings account named the budget reserve fund.

Such deposits would continue until the balance in the cash operating reserve fund is 5% of net general revenue collections the previous year.  A similar provision would require deposits in the budget reserve fund until the balance reaches 7% of the amount of net general revenue collected the previous year.  After the funds have been filled to the appropriate levels, any excess revenues would be used to reduce income tax rates.

“We’re never going to quench government’s thirst to spend,” said Senator Lager. “The only way to protect taxpayers is a hard cap that limits the growth of government.”

AIM president Ray McCarty agreed. “Every year this has been proposed, we support this measure that would force the state to put some money back for a rainy day and provide tax relief to taxpayers if revenues exceed our needs,” said McCarty. “We believe we are spending enough of the taxpayers’ money on state services now.  We allow spending to grow to account for increases in price and the number of people in the state.  This bill would allow taxpayers to stop unbridled growth in state spending and keep more of THEIR money,”

SJR 26 was supported by Associated Industries of Missouri and Americans for Prosperity.  The joint resolution was opposed by some of the same groups that have consistently opposed our tax reduction plans for the last several years: the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Missouri NEA, and the Missouri Budget Project.

If passed by the Missouri Senate and Missouri House, the resolution would bypass the governor and go straight to the voters in November, 2014.

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