Georgia Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, is sponsoring the Taxpayer Protection Act of 2011, a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit how much in tax dollars the state can spend each year. He said budget cuts and the state’s depleted rainy-day fund are among the reasons he sponsored SR 20, which has been approved by the Senate Finance Committee.
“We have cut the state budget by billions of dollars over the last three years,” Heath said. “We need to make sure it never again grows excessively.”
If approved by voters in a statewide referendum, the constitutional amendment would restrict the state from spending funds in excess of the previous year’s budget, except for adjustments based on inflation and population. Additional revenue beyond the spending limits would be placed in the rainy-day fund until it reached 10% of the previous year’s spending. Surplus revenue would be used to phase out Georgia’s income tax.
“We need to replenish the rainy-day fund and most importantly we need to ultimately cut the income-tax rate,” Heath said.
The General Assembly would be authorized to exceed the spending limits by a two-thirds vote of both chambers if the shortfall reserve is exhausted.
A committee is proposing to amend the resolution to allow revenue collected above the spending limit to fund increases needed for student enrollment at local school systems, and then to fund the revenue shortfall reserve to ensure that the balance is equal to 15% of the previous year’s spending.
In addition to the constitutional amendment, several Georgia lawmakers have filed bills that would impose zero-based budgeting on the triple-A rated state.