Spending Limit Bill Fails Supreme Court Test

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A measure that would limit government spending and prohibit state-backed retirement plans for lawmakers has failed to pass muster with the Michigan Supreme Court.

The court agreed Thursday with the state elections board, which voted last week to not allow the proposal on the ballot because its supporters fell about 20,000 valid signatures short of the 317,757 needed to go before voters.

The Michigan Stop Overspending Committee had appealed the board's decision, arguing the board wrongly tossed duplicate signatures, but lost Wednesday in the state Court of Appeals. The committee appealed that decision but lost again Thursday in the high court.

Stop Overspending turned in more than 500,000 signatures in July. But a sample reviewed by the secretary of state's office found numerous duplicate signatures, signatures from people not registered to vote in Michigan and other flaws.

Michigan elections director Chris Thomas has said when there are duplicate signatures, they all are disqualified because state law aims to deter fraud and ensure integrity in the signature gathering process.

Stop Overspending said the policy is unfair because many people inadvertently signed twice. The group held a news conference Thursday to complain that an employee of ACORN, a public interest group that opposes the issue, had signed the Stop Overspending petition 14 times.

ACORN's head organizer, David Lagstein, said Stop Overspending was just trying to deflect attention from its failure to qualify for the ballot.