Legislator proposes constitution change to cap state spending

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A freshman Republican wants to change the Alaska Constitution to place a tight cap on state spending.

Rep. Bill Stoltze, an Eagle River Republican, said his suggested constitutional amendment would limit state spending to no more than the amount spent two years earlier. It would take a three-quarters vote of the Legislature to exceed the spending limit, and then lawmakers could exceed it by only 2 percent.

"It's a conservative approach to state government," Stoltze told the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

The spending limit would allow no automatic increases for inflation or population growth. Exceptions would be made in several areas, including spending federal funds, making bond payments, paying permanent fund dividends and paying for disasters.

Rep. Max Gruenberg, an Anchorage Democrat, said an inflation rate exceeded 2 percent would mean fewer troopers and teachers. "It might cause the whole budget to go out of whack," he said.

"I think the budget is going out of whack on its own," Stoltze replied.

The committee did not take action on the proposal.

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