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Amendment 4 On The 2020 Louisiana Ballot: What To Know About State Budget Spending

Here’s the language you’ll see on the ballot:

“Do you support an amendment to limit the growth of the expenditure limit for the state general fund and dedicated funds and to remove the calculation of its growth factor from the Constitution?”

How would it work?

This one is a little tricky, because Louisiana already has a spending cap and the state constitution requires that the state have a balanced budget each year.

If approved, this amendment would do three things:

  1. Impose a hard 5 percent limit on spending growth each year, regardless of growth factor calculations.
  2. Replace the state’s current formula for calculating expenditure limits with a more complicated formula that averages changes in personal income, gross domestic product, the consumer price index and population.
  3. The legislature can make any on-the-fly changes to the expenditure limit with a two-thirds vote.

The intended effect is to limit the growth rate of the state budget. The amendment would take effect on June 30, 2022.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about the economic statistics the state uses in its calculation of expenditure limits? Probably not.

Your decision on this amendment is going to have more to do with who supports it and who is opposed to it.

Amendment 4 was proposed by Rep. Beau Beaullieu (R-New Iberia) and has earned the support of the conservative Pelican Institute for Public Policy. They acknowledge that cutting the state budget is difficult, and instead propose limiting growth on the front end.

Critics, including Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project, a left-leaning organization that lobbies for low- and middle-income families, calls the 5 percent cap on expenditure growth a “blunt instrument” that would slow the state's recovery from a recession. The Council for A Better Louisiana took no position on the proposal but said it was concerned that the cap could “constrain us in spending dollars we actually have on things we know we need.”

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