In power, G.O.P. blows past constitutional cap on state spending

Republican state budget busts the ‘Copeland Cap’ on state spending by $2.5 billion

Tennessee Senate Democrats
1 min readApr 19, 2023


NASHVILLE —Republicans love to moralize about following the constitution and limiting spending. But when they have power, these considerations take a back seat.

Today, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to approve legislation to pop the “Copeland Cap” on state spending.

The Copeland Cap — Article II, section 24 of the Tennessee Constitution — constrains budget spending by requiring that state expenditures not grow faster than the state economy. However, the legislature can “pop the cap” by passing a law that records the amount of the exception.

Senate Bill 1534 by Sen. Jack Johnson does just that. Under the bill, the legislature is authorized to pop the cap by $2.5 billion or 11.5 percent in the current fiscal year.

You can only imagine what the Republican howling would sound like if the shoe were on the other foot and it was Democrats who proposed a bill to violate the constitutional cap on spending.