Colorado Has a Lesson for Alaska With its Spending Cap

How do we as citizens limit the growth of government if our elected officials won't? How about a Spending Cap in the Alaska Constitution?

The state of Colorado has had a spending cap in place for many years and it has limited the growth of government extremely well.  Here is an article by Senator Mike Dunleavy of the Alaska Legislature:

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Colorado–A Lesson For Alaska

by Senator Mike Dunleavy (emphasis added)

In Alaska there are no real controls on spending and raising revenues by the legislature.  We can raise as much and spend as much as we can get away with. In Colorado, it’s a different ballgame.  In that state, 25 years ago, the people put tight controls on politicians for both spending and raising revenue.  Colorado has had in place for 25 years The Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR.  Under TABOR, Coloradans have had an unprecedented opportunity to set state fiscal policy through the ballot box.  And under TABOR, state government has grown only slightly.

Interestingly, Alaska has had in its constitution since 1982 a spending limit as well.  Unfortunately, because the base spending was set too high, and the formulas for spending growth too generous, it has never been effective as curbing spending or curbing the growth of government.

We hope to revise the appropriation limit this year with SJR2.  SJR2 will revise section 16 of our constitution if approved by voters in the next general election.  This revision would be a game changer in that it would limit the growth of the budget to a percent of inflation and population growth.  In other words, the people would limit the legislature as to how much it could spend every year.

How has Colorado’s TABOR impacted the economy of Colorado? Below are some current comparisons between Alaska and Colorado-

-Colorado’s economy is ranked #1 in the country in a 2017 US News and World Report article.
-Alaska’s economy is ranked #50 in the country in a 2017 US News and World Report Article.

Alaska per capita spending in 2015 was $18,643.56
-Colorado per capita spending in 2015 was $6,047.93

-Colorado’s unemployment rate is currently 3.0%
-Alaska’s unemployment rate 7.2% (Highest in the Country)

-State debt per capita in 2015 for Alaska was $40,714.00 per capita. #1 in the country.

-State debt per capita in 2015 for Colorado was $16,748.00 per capita. Ranking 19 among state