On Election Day, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote for who they want to be President of the United States. However, that is not the only important decision they will be making.
Along with choosing their preferred candidates for public office at the federal, state, and local levels, voters in many states will also face one or more ballot measures, which will shape their state for years to come.
In Louisiana, Constitutional Amendment 4, also titled Expenditure Growth Limit, is one of several measures that will appear before Pelican State voters. If approved, Amendment 4 would replace the current expenditure limit formula in the state constitution with a more effective formula that was approved by the legislature earlier this year, and an absolute cap of 5%.
Currently in Louisiana, state spending growth cannot exceed the prior year’s spending limit multiplied by the “growth factor,” which is defined as “the annual percentage rate of change of personal income for Louisiana as defined and reported by the United States Department of Commerce for the three calendar years prior to the fiscal year for which the limit is calculated.”
While it is great that Louisiana has a spending cap, it has not been incredibly effective at actually keeping the size of government in check.
“Louisiana’s status quo approach to budgeting has led us lurching from one fiscal cliff to the next, with little accountability for how taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Daniel Erspamer, CEO of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, said. “Over the last few years, Louisiana’s general fund has grown by nearly 12 percent, while our population has decreased and economic growth indicators have remained flat, at best.”
Amendment 4 would help rein in Louisiana’s spending problem by replacing the current spending cap with one that is much stronger.
Specifically, Amendment 4 would give the legislature the authority to “establish by law a procedure to determine the expenditure limit which shall not provide for growth in the expenditure limit of more than 5% in any year.” Any changes to this law would require 2/3 support in both the House and the Senate.
The expenditure limit formula that would be put in place following approval of Amendment 4 was already approved by the legislature earlier this year without a single NO vote. The proposed expenditure limit formula – Rep. Beau Beaullieu’s (R) House Bill 464, now Act 271 of the 2020 Regular Session – would build upon Louisiana’s current limit by also including growth of Louisiana’s GDP, state population, and changes to the regional inflation rate along with personal income growth in the formula.
“This is an opportunity to add predictability and stability to our antiquated budget process,” said Rep. Beaullieu. “As we make our budget more predictable, we will be able to better plan for the future and encourage job growth that provides a better life for working families across Louisiana.”
The status quo in Louisiana has allowed spending to increase well beyond the rate of population and inflation. On November 3rd, Louisianans have the opportunity to send a clear message to lawmakers. By approving Amendment 4, Louisiana taxpayers can say that they want their tax dollars to be used efficiently. They can say no more wasting our hard earned money on bloated spending programs.