Friday, January 18, 2013

Republicans move to strangle government

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

You know about the frog in the pot of slowly heating water?

I'm reminded of the metaphor by House Republican Leader Bruce Westerman's bill, filed yesterday and with a herd of Republican co-sponsors, to arbitrarily cap state spending increases by 3 percent a year, or, if the three-year spending average has been less than 3 percent, that lower figure.

In spirit, at least, it runs afoul of the Constitutional prohibition against obligating state money beyond the current legislature — in reverse. Future legislatures would be, of course, able to exceed that limit by voting a repeal. But it would be powerfully difficult.

States don't wage war — Texas, perhaps, excepted — and so we don't have the war analogy used on the artificial means proposed to restrict federal spending, such as a balanced budget amendment. But revenues and needs can change dramatically. God forbid the state experience a sudden upturn in the economy, or be poised for one if only the state would invest $1 billion in a steel mill. Whether needs were an increase in the school population, a desperate need for shoring up nursing homes or an unexpected capital project, a legislature's hands would be tied. And, as we've seen, the need for only a 25 percent vote to block an appropriations bill means a tiny band of frog-boiling, anti-government absolutists could stymie the noblest of ideas.

Needless to say this nasty little bill would also put the quietus on any future significant tax increases for perceived needs. What's the point of raising a tax if you can't spend the additional revenue?

Those new charter school regulation commissions cost money.

UPDATE: John Lyon if Stephens Media has a good report on this. The Beebe administration will fight the bill and already has a report on constitutional and practical problems with the bill.

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