Michigan Stop Overspending Initiative (2006)

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The Michigan Stop Overspending Initiative is an initiated constitutional amendment that would have created a new amendment to the Michigan Constitution. The measure did not appear on the November 2006 ballot in Michigan.

The measure, had it qualified for the ballot and gained the approval of voters, would have created a TABOR spending limit--allowing state government spending to grow only at a rate determined by the combination of inflation plus population growth.


The Stop Overspending initiative was modeled after the Headlee Amendment which placed spending restraints on local and state government in Michigan in 1978.


The proponent of the initiative was the "Michigan Stop Overspending Committee" or "SOS committee", led by Kurt O'Keefe. The SOS Committee gave as their reasons for supporting the initiative that it:

  1. Would put the voters back in charge of state spending.
  2. Would restrict government spending to grow at a reasonable rate annually.
  3. If state legislatures want to increase spending beyond the limits established by the measure, they'd only need voter approval first.
  4. Excess revenues would be refunded to taxpayers.
  5. Would eliminate life-time benefits for the legislature.
  6. Would establish a rainy day fund to prepare for possible future recessions in Michigan
  7. Michigan lost 45,000 jobs and 48,000 people left the state between 2004 and 2005. The SOS committee believes that passing a limit to the speed at which government spending could grow each year would bring businesses and families back to the state.[1]

Political Community's Support

As listed on the SOS Committee website:
National Taxpayers Union, whose past president, John Berthoud endorsed the movement: "The “Stop OverSpending” plan will help to restore stability to the state budget and give taxpayers a voice in how fast spending can grow – two goals our 15,300 members in Michigan have actively sought for years."[3]

Americans for Tax Reform

"I am pleased to learn that the Headlee Amendment is being resurrected and redesigned for the current situation," said economist Milton Friedman, who campaigned for the original Headlee Amendment.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses surveyed 20,000 of their members and found that 78% supported the SOS initiative.[4]


Defend Michigan was the leading opponent.[5]

The Michigan chapter of the American Federation of Teachers said that the SOS initiative would ruin Michigan's education, arguing that Colorado's public school system was hurt after Colorado passed a similar initiative.[6]

Michigan League of Humane Services ran a broad education effort to defeat the initiative.[7]

The Michigan Municipal League also opposed the initiative,[8] as did the American Academy of Pediatrics.[9]

Ballot Controversy

Due to a large amount of duplicate signatures the Michigan Court system removed the SOS initiative from the ballot.

Americans for Prosperity wrote an editorial shortly after accusing the opposition of sabotaging the petition. They noted that one petitioner who signed the petition 14 times was an employee of a pro-spending group, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).[10]

SOS removed from the ballot

The SOS committee collected and submitted over 500,000 signatures to the Michigan Board of Canvassers. However, "Defend Michigan" had already reviewed the ballot and found multiple cases of duplicate signatures.

The Board of Canvassers certified the 500,000 signatures and found that only a little over 300,000 were valid signatures. Since 317,557 valid signatures were needed to qualify for the ballot, they voted 4-0 on September 4, 2006 to keep the initiative off the ballot.

Scott Tillman, a spokesman for the SOS Committee, said:

"Time after time, the board of obstructionists has proven they're part of the political class in Lansing that can't be trusted to protect the people's right to vote or even obey the law unless threatened by a court order. Obviously, they're doing the bidding of a lot of powerful politicians, union bosses, and fat-cat lobbyists who don't want taxpayers to have a vote on how much of our money they can spend and consume each year."[11]

See also

External links

Additional reading