Capping state spending
3:22 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Mo. House panel endorses spending limit proposal

A proposed constitutional amendment that would cap the size of the state’s budget has passed a Missouri House committee.

The measure would prevent lawmakers from increasing state spending more than the rate of inflation. They would also have to take population growth into account when writing the state budget.  It’s sponsored by State Representative Eric Burlison (R, Springfield).

“This money, we shouldn’t forget that (at) the end of the day it’s coming from taxpayers," Burlison said.  "It’s coming from people that could be spending that money on their own home budgets, and so they expect nothing less from us than to be very responsible with the money.”

The resolution passed the House Budget Committee 20 to 9 on a mostly partisan vote -- all nine "no" votes came from Democrats. 

Supporters also say the cap would help control state spending and smooth a "boom and bust" budgeting cycle that sometimes forces deep cuts in state programs. Critics worry it could lead to underfunding for schools and other government programs.  Committee member Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis) says raising the state’s cigarette tax and collecting taxes on Internet sales would be better than capping how much money the General Assembly can spend each year.

“Our people are struggling here in the state of Missouri," Nasheed said.  "The senior citizen who’s trying to choose between her medicine and putting food on the table for herself, (and) the kid who was told to go to school and get a degree and to come home and not be able to find a job and still have a student loan hanging over their head.”

The resolution has another committee stop before moving to the House floor.  If it passes both the House and Senate, it would then go before Missouri voters.