The stricter Colorado [spending] cap does three things: it imposes firm spending caps (which grow only to reflect population and inflation), returns any excess revenues to taxpayers and allows only voters, not legislators, to override the caps.
Both sides agree that the measure reined in the budget. The growth in per capita spending fell to 31 percent in the decade after the cap from 72 percent in the decade before..
But even as the Colorado measure galvanizes antispending groups elsewhere, it is dividing them at home, prompting a right-on-right fight that is luring outside combatants and drawing blood.
On one side is Gov. Bill Owens, the two-term Republican once promoted by National Review as a conservative of presidential timber. Arguing that the strict provision has forced a fiscal crisis, Mr. Owens is championing a ballot measure that would suspend the limit for five years, allowing the state to spend an additional $3.7 billion. Otherwise, he warns, the cap may be repealed.
On the other side are former allies who call the governor a tax-raising apostate discrediting the law he claims to protect. In addition to Mr. Norquist, they include the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and the former House majority leader, Dick Armey, a leader of an antitax group called FreedomWorks.
Stay tuned…I would be surprised if this kind of initiative proved to be a long-run political equilibrium in many states. Voters could simply cut spending by voting for anti-spending politiicians, if they were truly convinced of the merits of that position. In part this is voters wanting to feel they want to cut spending, without actually having the desire to do so, a kind of expressive politics of the right. Here is the full story. Here is one account of failures at the federal level, courtesy of Cato and Reason.