Another effort to ratchet down state spending even further has won approval in the House.
Missouri supporters don’t want you to call it TABOR. That’s the infamous spending limit in Colorado that caused severe budget problems in that state. TABOR stands for Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. It forced tax increases to a vote of the people and tightly restricted state revenue growth.
Supporters in Missouri insist their bill isn’t TABOR, that it would keep state government revenue in check while providing cash reserves to tide Missouri over the lean times. HJR 70 has been called the Taxpayer Protection Act in the legislature. It would replace the current Rainy Day Fund with a new fund. It also creates a cash operating fund.
Critics point out Missouri voters approved the Hancock Amendment in 1980. It forces tax increases, both on the state and local level, to go to a vote of the people. It also restricts the growth of state government. They say Missouri doesn’t need further restrictions.
Rep. Tom Villa (D-St. Louis) says restrictions on state government spending always sound good, until taxpayers lobby the legislature for extra services, such as a bill this year to increase the men and women of the Water Patrol.
"To go to the taxpayers with a disingenuous effort to let them think that we’re not going to raise taxes is on its face patently absurd," Villa tells colleagues during House floor debate.
House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) sponsors the constitutional amendment and notes that, eventually, the people will decide.
"We’re giving the people of this state an opportunity to decide do they or do they not want to limit our ability to appropriate, appropriate, appropriate?" Icet says.
The amendment now moves to the Senate. If the legislature approves it, it will go to a vote of the people.