Securing a Fiscally Sound Future for Tennessee: Reforming the State Spending Cap to Curb Government Growth and Promote Prosperity
by Justin Owen
Beacon Center of Tennessee
February 14, 2014
Tennessee is hailed as a fiscally conservative state relative to its counterparts, and government spending and debt are limited in the Volunteer State. One factor that is designed to restrain out-of-control government growth is the Copeland Cap. There are, however, two flaws in the existing cap. The first is that the legislature may override the cap easily. The second problem lies is in the calculation of the cap itself. By calculating the cap using personal income growth, the legislature is allowed to make substantial increases in year-over-year spending, even without casting an additional vote. Overriding the cap should require a supermajority. In addition, the calculation should be changed to the more limiting factor of population plus inflation growth. These two solutions will strengthen the Copeland Cap and preserve Tennessee’s status as a fiscally responsible state for generations to come.