Friday, February 15, 2013

Voters May be Asked to Further Limit State Spending

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Elise Hall is concerned that without a more appropriate spending limitation, Oklahoma’s public sector could grow too fast in “boom” years.

House Joint Resolution 1011 would ask voters to approve a constitutional limit on appropriations that would lower the current limit of a 12 percent increase on the previous year’s appropriations when adjusted for inflation.

The legislation has been approved 14-9 by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

“When lawmakers make large appropriations in revenue growth years, this leads to drastic cuts in revenue shortfall years, as we’ve witnessed firsthand in the last few years,” Hall, R-Oklahoma City, said. “I think the current spending limitation that restricts the annual growth of the state budget to 12 percent should be lowered to 7 percent to further restrict public sector growth.”

State government growth has regularly exceeded private sector growth in Oklahoma since voters approved a 1985 spending limitation, according to Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs fiscal analyst Jonathan Small. State employment grew by 8.57 percent from 2000 to 2010 while private sector employment grew by only 6.07 percent. Government expenditures have grown 72.20 percent from 2001 to 2010 while private earnings have grown by only 40.71 percent.

“Oklahomans overwhelmingly support the idea of shrinking state government, so I think it is especially appropriate to limit growth,” Hall said. “It is better to save surplus revenue for shortfall periods than to overcommit the state to expenditures that it cannot sustain.”

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