Voters and legislators in two very red states, Oklahoma and North Dakota, have recently defeated conservative initiatives to eliminate important taxes. Among some Republicans, there seems to be a realization of the need to pay taxes to fund essential services like schools and police and firemen, and of the need to find other sources of revenue once a given tax is repealed.
North Dakota has become the first state in the nation to propose and subsequently defeat a constitutional amendment banning property taxes. The proposal, Measure 2, would have given all local revenue decisions to the state legislature without detailing how the process would work. It was overwhelmingly rejected – by 77 percent of voters. This comment in the Bismark Tribune seems to capture the reasoning of voters on the issue:
I voted “no” on M2 because it was too vague and when I inquired supporters on how funding gets reacquired they kept stating that politicians will be forced to rethink the budget when, in reality, politicians always get funding by raising taxes. There is no such thing as a vacuum in government budgets and this argument relies on common sense in government actually taking effect. If Mandan elects a grocery personality with dubious managerial skills (I worked for the guy, he severely lacks leadership), then I have serious doubts that politicians will “rethink” anything.
My message to the Tea Party, whom I am affiliated with: go back to the drawing board and write a bill that is explicit in detail and is based on economics and not blind ideology with a Thomas Jefferson quote attached. Don’t gripe, just rewrite it, make it more specific, and don’t treat voters like scared sheep.
In Oklahoma, several weeks ago the legislature surprisingly defeated a proposal to eliminate the state income tax. Oklahoma is among the reddest of red states, and both chambers of the legislature are controlled by Republicans. The Tulsa World‘s associate editor, Janet Pearson, credits a progressive think tank, OK Policy, with the defeat of income tax repeal: