State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, has signed onto legislation that would limit how much the state can spend in a year.
He co-sponsored Senate Resolution 20, the Taxpayer Protection Act of 2011, which would dictate tax dollar spending. Introduced in the Senate on Jan. 25, the bill went to the Senate Finance Committee and was approved Wednesday with a unanimous bipartisan vote.
"The Taxpayer Protection Act ensures that future generations of Georgians will not be left with government that has grown too large," Miller said. "We have an obligation to the people we represent to be fiscally responsible. This is why I am honored to co-sponsor this resolution."
The resolution would stop the state from spending more money than the previous year's budget after adjustments for inflation and population. Any additional revenue would go into the "rainy day" reserve fund until it reaches 15 percent of the previous year's spending. After 15 percent, that additional revenue would be used to phase out the state income tax by 0.25 percent each year.
"From the very onset during my campaign, I always tried to be mindful of the state income tax and the state budget because in the last few years before the economic downturn, the state just spent money
without regard to the rainy day fund," Miller said.
"There were no real requirements in terms of adjusting for spending, and it needed real firm guidelines."
The General Assembly can exceed the spending limits if the reserve fund is empty and both chambers adopt a joint resolution with a two-thirds vote.
"This way we can keep a handle on the spending, and it's tied to real factors such as inflation and population, not just the whims of whoever might be in control at the time," Miller said. "I think we have a good chance of getting this passed."
The legislation will move back to the Senate floor and then head to the House chamber for a vote.
Several House members have supported a similar bill.
"Sen. Miller understands that the government's money belongs to the taxpayer and not the state," said Majority Leader Chip Rogers, first sponsor of the resolution. "I appreciate his leadership on this important issue. The Taxpayer Protection Act will protect future generations of Georgians from government growing too large."