PHOENIX-In a policy brief released today, Goldwater Institute senior fellow Clint Bolick argues that the Arizona Constitution should be amended to include a provision that would control government spending, known as a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR).
A TABOR amendment would require the legislature to keep increases in state spending in line with inflation and population growth. Should legislators want to exceed that growth rate, they would be required to get voter approval in a general election. Also, any excess revenues collected by the state would either be returned to taxpayers or placed in a "rainy day" fund.
Bolick notes that such an amendment would fit well in the Arizona Constitution. "Our state constitution is the principal charter of our liberties. Restraining government's propensity to spend too much of its citizens' money would cure a glaring omission in that document."
The policy brief illustrates that a constitutional change is the best way to protect the state's fiscal health and ensure the legislature is accountable to taxpayers. In states like Washington, which enacted a similar measure by statute rather than constitutional amendment, legislators are able to easily bypass budget requirements.
Over the last 10 years, Arizona state revenue has increased an average of six percent per year, while spending has increased nine percent per year, demonstrating the need for a TABOR measure. Had a limit been in place in 1994, Arizona would now have a $273 million surplus instead of a $698 million deficit.
Mark Brnovich, director of the Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Government, believes such a measure would "be in harmony with the rest of the Arizona Constitution by providing a powerful check on excessive government."
The report, A Taxpayer's Bill of Rights: A Natural Fit in the Arizona Constitution, is available online here.
Andrea Woodmansee, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 712-1257 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Brnovich, J.D., Director, Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Government, (602) 462-5000, email@example.com