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Should Colorado Taxpayers Impose Tougher Spending Controls?

IP-14-88(July 1988)
Author: Barry W. Poulson

PDF of full Issue Paper
Scribd version of full Issue Paper

In Brief

  • The growth of spending by Colorado state government is less effectively restrained by law than in some big states like California and Massachusetts, even though we were among the first states to legislate a spending cap in the inflationary ’70s.
  • Despite some tax cuts earlier in the ’80s, Colorado outlays are now rising faster than population and inflation combined, and priorities seem to be distorted by loopholes in the law.
  • The self-interest of officeholders and their allied lobbies explains why existing spending limits tend to leak. Limits work better when put into the constitution by voters.
  • If Colorado’s limit were structured like California’s, the state would be spending 10% less this year; savings since 1975 would have approached $1.5 billion.
  • The “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” a proposed constitutional amendment currently petitioning for ballot status, would impose such a limit; see text on back page.