The Missouri House has given first-round approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would cap state spending, based on each year’s inflation rate and population growth. The vote split almost entirely along party lines.
Democrats argued that placing caps on state spending would tie the hands of future lawmakers and cripple social service needs that are already critically underfunded. House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey of Kansas City disagreed.
“This legislature is not hamstringing anybody, because ultimately this goes on the ballot, and the people that elect us would decide what the limits on our power is, which, by the way, is what a constitution is…it’s the people deciding what the limits on the government are supposed to be,” Silvey said.
Democrats, however, including Leonard Hughes of Kansas City, argued that the proposed ballot measure would be redundant:
“It doesn’t make sense…we are required already to have a balanced budget in a way that already limits what state appropriations are…44 percent of Missouri’s major highways are already congested and they’re already in poor or mediocre condition…is that efficient?” Hughes said.
The proposed ballot initiative faces one more House vote before moving to the State Senate. If it passes the General Assembly it could go before Missouri voters this fall.