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Spending Caps



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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, August 8, 2011

California already has a spending cap of sorts in place.  It's often called the "Gann Limit" and was passed in the late 70's. But it was relaxed in the 1990's.   Now, many Republicans argue something with more teeth is needed to rein in state spending.  Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers' Association says his group is crafting a ballot measure that would resurrect the original Gann limit:

Coupal:  "We're putting the finishing touches on it now.  We're looking at a model that limits state spending to population and inflation and we look forward to having the voters have an opportunity to vote on that in 2012."

Coupal says the measure would double the size of the state's reserve fund - and he thinks the time is right for voters to weigh in:

Coupal: "Right now I think with the national debate that's going on, the appetite for some sort of spending restraint is pretty universal."

But that isn't the only measure voters may consider next year on the topic.  There's already one on the June ballot.  It was put there by lawmakers during last year's budget deal and would limit state spending growth to 3.8 percent:

Lockyer:  "It means that over time we are constitutionally requiring that government shrink."

That's State Treasurer Bill Lockyer.  He's not a fan of the June ballot measure.  He says the problem is that many areas of government, such as health care, grow faster than that - so other areas would have to be cut in order to keep total spending under the limit:

Lockyer: "So what that means, is you have to cut the university and state college system.  You have to try to cut community colleges and other education spending.  That's a bad idea."

A Public Policy Institute of California survey conducted in May found that seven in ten adults favor a strict limit on state spending growth. 

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