Key Points
  • Tax and Expenditure Limitations, like Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, have been shown to stabilize budgets over time.
  • Taxpayers deserve to know how their dollars are being spent. All levels of government should establish user-friendly websites, allowing citizens to search through a robust database of all financial transactions.
  • Governments should budget for outcomes, identifying core functions and measuring results.
  • In 2003, Washington State used outcome-based budgeting to close a $2.4 billion deficit without raising taxes.

SBS LogoSmart budgeting is vital to a state’s financial health. The ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit offers more than 20 policy ideas for addressing today’s shortfalls in a forthright manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks or damaging tax increases.

One way to stabilize budgets over time is to embrace Tax and Expenditure Limitations (TELs). The most effective TELs, like Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), require voter approval to raise taxes, issue debt or spend surplus revenue. Policy reforms like TABOR give hardworking taxpayers more protection and ensure that state budget growth is stabilized at a reasonable level.

Restoring accountability to government spending is another way to mend state budgets over the long run. Since ALEC first adopted its model Taxpayer Transparency Act in 2007, nearly every state has launched a budget transparency website, allowing citizens to more easily find out how their tax dollars are spent. All levels of government, including school districts and municipalities, would do well to follow suit.

More fundamentally, government should budget for outcomes. This means identifying the core functions of state government and measuring results. In 2003, Washington State used outcome-based budgeting to close a $2.4 billion deficit without raising taxes.


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Model Policies

  • Federal Funds Oversight Act Final

    (1) State agency federal funding requirements. (a) Prior to accepting federal funding, the state budget office and the agency which will be charged with accepting the federal funding shall provide a report to the governor, state legislature, auditor general, state treasurer and the Independent Fiscal Office (or relevant…

  • Resolution Urging Congress to Protect Consumer Privacy in Banking and Financial Transactions Final

    Resolution Urging Congress to Protect Consumer Privacy in Banking and Financial Transactions WHEREAS, the Biden Administration and some in Congress have proposed changes to tax information reporting which would require financial institutions to provide the Internal Revenue Service reports of incoming and outgoing transactions from every customer financial…

  • Statement of Principles on ARPA Aid to State Governments Final

    Statement of Principles Temporary Funds Require Temporary Spending History reveals that federal spending and bailouts are not a “free lunch” for states. Academic research shows that federal aid to the states increases both state spending and overall tax burdens. If state leaders spend temporary federal funds, the increased spending should…

  • Statement of Principles on Sound Rainy Day Fund Practices Final

    Guiding Principles of State Rainy Day Funds The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is committed to developing state budgetary policies that foster an economy that works for all, empowering people to earn success and realize their potential. One way that a legislature can ensure this goal is by preparing for…

  • Resolution in Support of End-of-Year Fiscal Responsibility Final

    WHEREAS: Waste, fraud, and abuse occur frequently in agency budget processes WHEREAS: Congress has the responsibility to ensure agency waste, fraud, and abuse is minimized and taxpayers are protected from agency mismanagement WHEREAS: In the last quarter of the fiscal year (Q4), federal agencies spent 25.4% more than previous months…

  • Resolution in Opposition to Federal Bailouts of State Budgets Final

    WHEREAS, the national debt surpassed $27 trillion in October 2020; WHEREAS, states – like the federal government – have demonstrated a lack of spending restraint, with state and local government direct general expenditures increasing by nearly 90% over the past 40 years when accounting for inflation and population growth; WHEREAS,…

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Task Forces

Tax and Fiscal Policy

The ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force is dedicated to researching and promoting sound policy aimed at creating a…

Press Releases

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