Missourians should be proud of their elected state officials, who put their federal counterparts to shame in at least one area: controlling government spending.

Last week, State Auditor Nicole Galloway released a report showing Missouri is complying with the Hancock Amendment. That’s a 1980 amendment to the Missouri Constitution that restricts the amount by which fees and taxes can be increased and also limits the amount of personal income used to fund state government.

The amendment shifts much of the decisions to tax Missourians directly to them, through statewide votes. Because of the amendment, lawmakers are extremely limited in how much they can increase taxes and spending.

If the state’s income and spending exceed the amendment’s formula, then state government must give refunds to taxpayers — as it did in the 1990s.

Galloway’s office said that for the 2018 fiscal year, total state revenue was approximately $3.9 billion under the refund threshold. As a result, the state was found to be in compliance. Missouri has not exceeded the limit since 1999.

This isn’t to say we approve of everything in the budget. But Missouri is not deficit spending — the Missouri Constitution requires a balanced budget — and the Hancock Amendment is helping lawmakers do that.

The federal government, on the other hand, appears incapable of controlling spending.

Congress continues to burden future generations with an unsustainable amount of debt. It might sound like hyperbole, but it could one day be the downfall of our great country.

The U.S. national debt stands at $22.4 trillion, according to usdebtclock.org.

On Monday’s KWOS Morning Show, host Austin Petersen asked U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer about the debt. Luetkemeyer essentially said while Republicans want to cut spending, they have to compromise with Democrats.

The fact is neither party can control spending. All politicians know they can’t get elected by promising not to spend. As a politician, tough love isn’t going to get you anywhere. No one wants to hear the hard truth.

So what can be done? More and more, we’re convinced that no Congress or president will ever have the political will to balance the federal budget, much less knock down the debt.

That leaves it up to us. Most U.S. states and some other countries have balanced budget requirements in their constitutions. This might be our best chance to put the brakes on our spiraling debt.

— Jefferson City News-Tribune

Missouri Voices is a series of previously published editorials from newspapers across the river designed to reflect a diverse array of Show Me State viewpoints. These publications don’t reflect the editorial views of Atchison Globe. Provide feedback by emailing globe@npgco.com

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