Senator Kelsey begins “12 for ‘12” initiative with resolution to slow state spending.
(NASHVILLE, TN), October 5, 2011 — State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) today announced the introduction of Senate Joint Resolution 470, an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution to slow state spending. The first in a series of announcements, the resolution to slow spending is part of Kelsey’s “12 for ‘12” initiative for the new 2012 session of the Tennessee General Assembly which begins in January.
“It’s time to cut back on excessive spending,” said Senator Kelsey. “Financial stability is critical as we anticipate declining funds from Washington in the future.”
The Constitution states that in “no year shall the rate of growth of appropriations from state tax revenues exceed the estimated rate of growth of the state’s economy.” This provision, also known as the “Copeland Cap,” was enacted in 1978. Kelsey said that provision has been critical in keeping Tennessee from falling into the financial peril experienced by other states like California, New York and Illinois, which have incurred almost insurmountable debt. The Tennessee Constitution, however, allows lawmakers to override the state spending cap with a simple majority vote. The cap has been exceeded 4 times in the past 6 years.
“We need to take that option off the table,” added Kelsey. “It is too easy to exceed. Tennesseans know the importance of living within our means. We cannot overspend in good times without setting ourselves up to make drastic cuts or to increase taxes in bad times. This is just what has happened in Washington.”
A constitutional resolution must be approved by a simple majority in two readings each year during one General Assembly, and then receive a two-thirds super majority upon a third reading in the next year. If approved, citizens can expect to see the resolution on the ballot in November 2014.
Kelsey said other proposals in his 12-point initiative will be released in the coming weeks before the legislature reconvenes in January.