This year’s version of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) yesterday was approved by the House Committee on Government, and moves to the House Finance Committee. House Bill 274 would place limitations on the annual growth rate of the state budget, tied to a formula based upon inflation and population growth.
I’ve written extensively on North Carolina’s need for a TABOR in the last few years, for example here and here.
North Carolina continues to find itself in budget “crisis” mode with greater frequency due to its complete lack of fiscal discipline – particularly during economic boom years. When revenue is flowing to state coffers, state budget writers simply can’t help themselves – they ratchet up spending commitments at unsustainable annual rates often approaching ten percent. And keep in mind, these dramatic spending hikes are not in response to increased “need” for government services because the most severe spending sprees come during prosperous years of low unemployment and fewer people enrolled in government programs.
A TABOR would place a limit on these spending sprees, because budget writers have proved that they simply can’t help themselves and – like an addict – need an intervention. Indeed, when examining state spending during the three decades leading up to the 2009 recession, we see the state budget grew at three times the rate of population – even after adjusting for inflation.
TABOR opponents, however, continue to refer to Colorado’s experience with a TABOR, trotting out dire warnings about how Colorado was decimated by its TABOR. The claims made, however, are highly misleading and have been thoroughly debunked.
Finally, TABOR legislation is very popular among North Carolinians. Civitas has polled a TABOR several times over the past few years, and the results are consistent: by a 3 to 1 or more margin respondents are in favor.
A TABOR is long overdue, makes sense, and is highly popular among voters.
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