Structure of State-Level Tax and Expenditure Limits

Sharon N. Kioko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


While much consideration has been given to the approval process, base classification, and codification of tax and expenditure limits (or TELs), these factors tell us nothing about how they actually work. This study focuses exclusively on the technical elements of these limits and finds how states estimate their limits have over time eroded their potency. More specifically, if a state resets or rebases its limit annually by using actual revenues or expenditures for the preceding year, the limit will trend closely with actual revenues or expenditures, effectively restricting growth in spending as prescribed by law. However, if the law requires a state to estimate its limit using the appropriation limit for the preceding year instead of actual revenues or expenditures, that is, without rebasing, the limit will reflect cumulative changes to the base when it was first approved. Over time, the TEL cap is significantly above the states revenues or expenditures as it remains unaffected by the state's underlying fiscal and economic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-78
Number of pages36
JournalPublic Budgeting and Finance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Administration


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