TABOR: A Proven Failure

February 11, 2013

HJ594 Would be a Costly Disaster for Virginia

An effort to limit growth in state spending to an arbitrary and rigid formula would tie legislators’ hands when it comes to making decisions about the future of the commonwealth and put Virginia on a path of proven failure, according to analysis from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. The proposal, HJ594, is a constitutional amendment that would limit growth in state spending to population growth plus inflation.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Overall population growth is a flawed predictor of costs because certain segments of the population grow at different rates and require more services than others.
  • The costs of providing health care, education, public safety and other services grow at a faster rate than the cost of consumer goods, which is the inflation measure prescribed by the bill.
  • Had the proposal been in effect during the recent recession, lawmakers would have had to cut over $1 billion more from core education, public safety and health care programs in order to meet the requirements of the bill.
In addition, the report points to the experience of Colorado, which adopted similar legislation in 1992 called “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” or TABOR. In the decade following its adoption the state’s schools, health care and other services fell from the middle of the pack to the bottom of the barrel.