With a deluge of initiative filings to raise taxes pouring down on taxpayers, an initiative will be filed today to give voters a chance at an alternative approach for state fiscal management—limit spending.
Provisions in the measure will limit annual state appropriations to the prior year’s level adjusted for cost of living and population growth, require surplus revenue to first be spent on debt service – what Governor Brown calls our “wall of debt” – that will hinder the state’s finances if not reduced, and strengthen the two-thirds vote requirement for legislative enactment of laws that authorize or raise new or higher taxes
This spending limit initiative comes on the heels of not only numerous tax increase propositions, but also efforts to undercut the people’s desire to control spending.
Special interests and the majority in the legislature continue to block attempts to put spending controls in place. They want freewheeling spending to continue.
The most blatant attempt to undercut reasonable spending reforms was the legislature’s dead-of-night bill to undo an already agreed upon rainy day fund/spending limit scheduled for the 2012 ballot. In a last minute gut and amend maneuver, a bill crammed through by the majority party, supported by special interests, and signed by the governor, moved the rainy day fund/spending limit measure off the ballot and re-scheduled it for 2014. No one was fooled that the ultimate goal of that delay was to eventually kill the measure.
The legislative majority and their special interest allies do not want a spending limit.
But the voters do. The voters will get their chance to override the legislative shenanigans if the upgraded spending limit qualifies for the ballot.
The Small Business Action Committee joined with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Taxpayers Association to file the initiative, which will re-establish the Gann Spending Limit of 1979. Although still in effect, the Gann Limit, named after proponent Paul Gann, was made ineffective by subsequent measures. Since that time, dramatic increases in spending have constantly put the state budget under water. The updated spending limit will stop the problem of unbalanced budgets.
As Governor Jerry Brown, a supporter of the original Gann Limit said in his second inaugural address, “Government, no less than the individual, must live within limits. It is time to bring our accounts into balance. Government, as exemplar and teacher, must manifest a self-discipline that spreads across the other institutions in our society, so that we can begin to work for the future, not just consume the present.”
Signs of fledgling economic growth are now being recorded. Tax increases could shut down the anemic but positive growth. Tax increases will not solve the state’s fiscal problems; only make the situation more difficult for the consumers and taxpayers. Controlling spending and paying down debt will put the state on a solid economic path.