Friday, April 28, 2006

TPA's little nephew

I haven't had a chance to look at the TPA passed by the Assembly this morning and have a sneaking suspicion that the Senate will render it moot, but I don't think that the proper way to look at it is that something is better than nothing. A toothless (or near toothless) TPA will take the steam out of the movement for real spending limitation.

On the other hand, politics is the art of the possible and half an enchilada may be better than an empty plate. The question is whether this does enough.

Bases on accounts in the press, I'm actually most concerned about tying the cap to personal income growth. Does this create a presumption that state spending "should" go up with personal income? Would it really restrain state spending? Remember that when the new TPA was proposed, opponents cited the Reschovsky study to argue that state spending has tracked personal income growth over the past twenty years. I am now hearing that there would have been some reduction had this TPA been in place, but how large would the reduction have been? I don't think that we can assume that this is just the first step with more to follow. This has to be good enough to live with.

I am less concerned with the fact that this TPA does not apply to local governments or state spending outside the general fund. If spending is shifting to localities or outside the general fund, it will be easier to make a case for a new form of limitation.

My initial impression is that this is just not worth the candle, but I think everyone should look at it a bit more closely.

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