By Stuart Reid
Utah State Senator, District 18
The Sutherland Institute approached me and asked me if I would be willing to sponsor a government spending limitation, I think in part because they recognize my interest in making sure that we are being completely responsible in our budgets and that we are being mindful of our rainy day fund.
Government spending, usually done with good intention, can easily grow beyond control. In the last 40 years, government spending in Utah has increased five-fold while our population has only doubled.
SJR 22 proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would tie the growth in state spending to rate of growth in population and inflation. With this limit in place we could ensure fiscal responsibility and increase the reserves in our rainy-day fund. The amendment would also give the Legislature the ability to make exceptions for additional spending when necessary.
Why do we need a government spending amendment? Policymakers have managed taxpayer dollars very well, rightly receiving national praise for doing so. Perhaps the best way to understand is by comparison.
Our Founding Fathers knew that they needed a binding constitution to protect not only their own freedom, but that of their children and grandchildren. Without codifying their political and policy wisdom in a way that would bind future political leadership, future generations’ right to liberty and good government would always be at risk from leaders who might abandon the wisdom of their forefathers.
Just as it was necessary for the Founding Fathers to codify their political wisdom for the sake of their children, it is wisdom for Utah’s policymakers to codify their fiscal wisdom for the sake of future generations. Just as the Founders knew that some future leaders of the country would not choose freedom and good government without constitutional protections and restraints, we can be confident that some future Utah policymakers may choose to abandon wise fiscal stewardship if we lack the constitutional measures embodying the fiscal prudence of today’s Legislature.
Utah’s current leaders have been rightly praised for wisely following principles of fiscal prudence:
* Restraint in spending
* Reliable payment of debt, and
* Saving for the unknown.
That legacy should be protected for future generations. We should add those principles to the Utah Constitution. Our duty to the future will allow no less from us, and that is why we need a government spending amendment.
Sutherland Institute has created a video that talks about SJR22.