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Lawmakers Can Avoid Spending Cap Litigation

Yankee Institute Study Explains Legal Limits Imposed By Spending Cap

Connecticut lawmakers regularly find themselves tiptoeing at the edge of the law while writing the state’s budget. To clarify exactly where that edge lies, the Yankee Institute released a policy brief on Monday, Connecticut’s Spending Cap: A Legal Overview.

Read the complete brief at the bottom of this page.

Although an overwhelming majority of voters approved the constitutional spending cap in 1992, lawmakers frequently push the cap to its limits. Actually breaking the cap could expose the state to serious litigation that, even if unsuccessful, would create an environment of uncertainty about the legality of millions – or even billions – of dollars in state spending.

Peter Bowman, a senior trial attorney with Pavano Dombrowski, LLC, and president of the Connecticut Chapter of the Federalist Society, wrote the brief for the Yankee Institute.

“If the General Assembly raises income taxes while spending more than allowed under the spending cap, taxpayers would have the right to challenge their increased tax bills in court because the increases are meant to fund illegal spending,” Bowman writes.

Bowman examines the history of taxpayer challenges in Connecticut alongside the complex history of the spending cap, narrowing down the types of legal challenges that are most likely to hold up in court.

“The people of Connecticut overwhelmingly supported the spending cap at the polls two decades ago,” said Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute. “This well-reasoned legal overview should help lawmakers understand why it’s vital that they remain within the limits of that popular law as they make difficult decisions about Connecticut’s next budget.”

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Connecticut’s Spending Cap: A Legal Overview

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