HCR 2038: The Arizona Republican Legislature’s Backdoor TABOR


Unable to summon the political will to control spending though they control the state legislature, the Republicans want to put the state on a starvation diet that will affect the health, education, public safety, and welfare of every Arizona citizen.

Their means for accomplishing their evisceration of the public fisc is House Concurrent Resolution 2038, which if passed would go on the 2008 ballot for voter consideration. Now that Taxpayer’s Bills of Rights (TABORS) have been roundly discredited by the meltdown of public services in Colorado as a result of the adoption of a constitutional TABOR, Republicans seek another means to accomplish their goals. A lowered constitutional cap on the percentage of aggregate personal income government may spend is the means they’ve chosen in Arizona.

Arizona already has a 7.41% cap on government expenditures. The Republicans want to lower that by over a percentage point (about $2.2 billion in 2008). The resulting mandatory cuts would prevent our government from deciding to save, force massive cuts in services, and have many of the same deleterious effects as a TABOR.

The people of Arizona originally saw fit to limit the state’s spending to 7% of aggregate personal income. In subsequent years, as the state was given responsibility for the health care of many citizens, long term care of the elderly and disabled, and construction of our children’s schools, slightly more leeway was needed to meet these new obligations. That we have been able to get by with a modest additional 0.41% since the state’s founding is quite remarkable and testimony to the normal parsimony of our elected officials.

These Republican anti-tax anarchists now want to slice more than a full percentage off the cap, regressing to far more below the original cap. There is no way the state government will be able to function and provide the essential services that a modern civil society requires. They want to return us to some ideological Golden Age of the 19th century in which government did little or nothing for its people, except, of course, for those already wealthy.

Their plan is irresponsible, underhanded, and disingenuously presented as a fiscal restraint, when it is actually just fiscal suicide.


  1. You are absolutely right about what Colorado’s TABOR did to State services. To make matters worse provisions in the original TABOR also limited county and municipal governments as well as school, fire, water, soil conservation, library, and just about every other government you can think of. There were provisions for voters to lift TABOR caps and over 90% of the districts where such lifting was put on the ballot did in fact approve of them. Furthermore, Colorados voters eventually realized the disastrous impacts and approved a five year moratorium on many of TABOR’s provisions. That at least gave the state some breathing room but the shoe will fall again soon.

    One of the most damaging provisions of Colorado’s TABOR was to reestablish ab annual state spending limit that was calculated based on the previous year’s spending. When the state had a rough (low revenue, low spending) year the base was lowered and no “catchup” provisions were built in. This rachet-down effect would eventually put the state out of business.

    There are lots of other esoteric twists to Colorado’s TABOR. If anyone wishes to hear more give me ring at 520-572-6255.

    P.S. The author of the original TABOR, Doug Bruce, was defeated in a Bush party primary last year but then was appointed into the State House of Representatives when a vacancy occured. He promptly kicked a photographer from a Denver paper and was reprimanded by the full House. This guy is very smart and charismatic but lives in a world of his own. Don’t ever trust him!!!