May 20 2008
Spending may be capped in the spending caps constitutional amendment. I offered two amendments to the spending caps bill today.
1-This amendment was a simple automatic tax refund to the overcharged taxpayer if the following criteria are met: “When the balance in the Budget Stabilization Fund is greater than 15% of the prior year’s actual general fund revenue collection and when the big spenders have grown government to match the 10 year projections (roughly 4.5%), then the taxpayer will get an automatic refund. I’m sure you guessed it, my amendment was tabled.
2- When the balance in the Budget Stabilization Fund is greater than 15% of the prior year’s actual general fund revenue collection and when the big spenders have grown government to match the 10 year projections (roughly 4.5%), then the overage may be used in the following ways: 1-rax refund (don’t hold your breath 2-debt retirement (blue face yet?) or 3-capital improvements or a combination of 2 or 3 of these options. Unless the SC Legislature has a Goldwater moment, you and I know the money will be spent in a slush orgy with the capital projects. But, we’ll have one more item to hold up as a justification for tax cuts. This amendment passed, and the bill got 2nd reading, but fell short of the necessary 2/3 vote to amendment the constitution.
The Budget Stabilization Fund may be OK. It keeps us from the current roller coaster ride of up and down years. One piece of the puzzle does give me pause. The big revenue years are the only time we can ever get any form of tax relief passed. If we get into this steady growth, we may have an even harder time to persuade the Legislature to cut taxes. Of course ya’ll know, selling tax cuts in Columbia is like selling Antabuse on skid row. No one’s interested.
Keep in mind that the cap is a ceiling, not a floor. Even with this amendment the Legislature could have a Goldwater moment and cut taxes and cut government down to essential constitutional functions.