Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Copeland Cap is a Toothless Tiger for TN Taxpayers

In 1978, the voters of Tennessee approved a constitutional amendment called the Copeland Cap. Tennessee was the first State in the nation to pass such a limit on the growth in State spending.

The amendment mandated that State spending not grow faster than the Tennessee economy. In other words, State Government spending should not grow faster than the ability of Tennessee taxpayers to pay for that growth.

The amendment contained a fatal flaw, however. The spending limit can be overridden with a simple majority vote. In other words it can be exceeded with the same simple majority vote that is used to pass the budget. And, in fact, many times legislators don't even know they are voting for the "index" bill, as it is called.

As a result the Copeland cap has been exceeded 14 times by a total amount of $3.6 billion. It is time for a change to the Copeland cap so that that a super majority of votes is required to exceed the cap. This would provide taxpayers the protection they need and deserve for their family budgets. Source

Tennessee State Spending

Copeland Cap

Yr/Yr

Exceeded

1977-78

1,943,271,400

18.31%

1978-79

2,066,136,449

6.32%

1979-80

2,233,958,731

8.12%

1980-81

2,251,514,900

0.79%

1981-82

2,405,433,715

6.84%

1982-83

2,544,309,360

5.77%

1983-84

2,544,074,600

-0.01%

1984-85

3,213,352,200

26.31%

396,100,000

1985-86

3,589,868,286

11.72%

58,000,000

1986-87

3,945,250,800

9.90%

100,000,000

1987-88

4,089,071,000

3.65%

1988-89

4,511,685,600

10.34%

101,000,000

1989-90

4,965,047,500

10.05%

74,000,000

1990-91

5,077,847,500

2.27%

1991-92

5,101,226,500

0.46%

703,100,000

1992-93

5,825,820,000

14.20%

450,000,000

1993-94

6,226,346,300

6.88%

1994-95

6,522,330,200

4.75%

1995-96

6,863,160,600

5.23%

1996-97

7,140,369,900

4.04%

55,000,000

1997-98

7,392,089,800

3.53%

1998-99

7,987,938,890

8.06%

1999-00

8,295,084,400

3.85%

270,000,000

2000-01

8,885,405,625

7.12%

2001-02

9,262,376,900

4.24%

2002-03

9,565,920,000

3.28%

771,000,000

2003-04

9,924,479,700

3.75%

275,000,000

2004-05

11,076,150,200

11.60%

2005-06

11,658,574,900

5.26%

2006-07

12,459,483,761

6.87%

46,000,000

2007-08

13,792,630,592

10.70%

57,300,000

2008-09

13,617,116,100

-1.27%

2009-10

12,591,267,300

-7.53%

248,000,000

3,604,500,000