Dear Barbara, Chip and Chip:
I completely understand why CLT decided to abandon putting initiatives on the ballot. When the Legislature overrode the income tax rollback and other successful ballot questions, it made sense to focus on electing enough Legislators that would uphold the will of the people. However, the last few years should hopefully make you reconsider.
In the void, Carla Howell and her group have stepped up with ballot questions that majority of the electorate has rejected as too extreme. They have put our candidates in the difficult position of whether to oppose a large tax cut or support the idea of a protest vote. They have also galvanized the opposition and increased Democrat and Union turnout while only providing a very limited campaign in favor of their ballot question.
What’s worse is that the Democrats once again have the cover they need to push for additional tax hikes. The failure of another large tax cut is being spun as the public’s general content with the current tax rates. Now, they can use it to justify their next attempt to raise taxes. Whether it is the gas tax, candy tax or graduated income tax, it’s likely to come soon before revenues fully recover from the recession and the case for needing more revenues becomes more flimsy.
A 5% sales tax rollback, or a putting the 5% income tax rollback on the ballot again, would have been something that I believe the majority of voters would have supported. And, it would have been something that most of our candidates could have rallied around. Of course, it might be overturned, but at least challengers have an issue to run against. If the goal is to elect more Legislators, the best thing is to give the voters a good reason to vote out incumbents.
The income tax rollback is ten years old now, and many voters have forgotten it (unfortunately!). Many newer Legislators in potentially competitive districts weren’t even around for the vote to overturn the rollback. Therefore, they can just tell the voters that they are with them, because there’s no roll call.
I know I am asking for a group to step up with more reasonable ballot questions that will likely be overturned by the current legislature. However, I think a return to putting sensible ballot questions forward will do a lot to further the cause of electing more Legislators that will support the initiative petition process and the will of the voters.