Tax hikes may soon need more than the majority
Well there’s a minority that would like to re-gigger that tradition when it comes to raising taxes. Instead of hiking them with one more vote than half, voters will be asked to enshrine in the state constitution a super majority requiring a two-thirds vote on all future tax increases.
“This turns over more power to the people,” suggests Scott Hagerstrom who runs the Michigan chapter of the Americans for Posterity. He and his anti-tax pals participated in a petition drive that netted over 600,000 who want to vote on this in November and it’s likely they will get their wish.
Over at the League for Human Services, which stands up for the rights of the downtrodden and keeps vigil over the rips in the social safety net, it knows it has a battle on its hands.
CEO and former Democratic State Senator Gilda Jacobs acknowledges the obvious: Voters will glum onto this in a heart beat. After all who likes to pay taxes and who wouldn’t want to stash more cash in their own pockets rather than share it with those who might need it.
The message from the anti-tax crowd is simple: If you want to make it tougher for the politicians to raise your taxes, vote for this proposal.
The other side can not reduce its counter arguments to less than a10 second sound bite.
First the Gilda Jacobs of the world, including the local governments and the highway lobby, contend this is bad government. Try explaining that to those who hate government. Like they would care.
“People really don’t understand what this petition drive is all about ... It looks like on the surface it’s a great populist kind of thing, but when you dig deep to get to the nitty gritty of it, it can damage future growth of the state.”
She goes on, “You can have a small minority of people who can really bungle things up.” Mr. Hagerstrom et.al. go “that’s ridiculous.”
For example, the governor wants to raise $1.4 billion to rebuild the state’s World War II infrastructure system. He’ll have to raise revenue to do it and he’ll need lawmakers to do it.
Even if the current system remains in place, he’d need 56 House and 20 Senate votes.
If the two-thirds plan passes, he’d need 74 and 26.
Hagerstrom notes that if lawmakers won’t do it, then it could go to the vote of the citizens to decide.
Sixteen other states already have this rule and unless somebody comes up with a bundle of money to oppose it, Michigan could be number 17.
The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are behind this effort according to Jacobs which means they are at odds with the governor once more.
The governor opposes the amendment which makes the gap between himself and the anti-tax folks wider. Hagerstrom, who has had his doubts about the governor’s conservative credentials from the get go, thinks the governor is just like all other politicians, even though he contends he is not a career politician.
Just like the term limit debate where all of official Lansing was against it, many of the inside players will line-up against this, too. Problem is the more they moan and groan about how bad it is, the higher the yes vote among the non-insiders, a.k.a. the public, will be.