Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You shall know your vote by who your opponents are 

One of the reasons for my ambivalence on the vehicle tax amendment is that it seems likely to produce great pressure on the Legislature next year to raise taxes to fill the hole. You can't see it any more clearly than in this web created by Education Minne$ota. If it passes, expect a great noise from teachers for some kind of mitigation of the loss of funding. 'Mitigation' is a code word for 'tax increase'. Our own faculty union is not taking an official position on this, yet its lobbyist sent EdMinn$ ad piece to us anyway.

That might have tilted my scale to vote for it. Watching that food fight next year in the Legislature would make for great radio and blogging.

UPDATE: You know, though, Tony makes a couple of great points in the comments. This one froze me:
From the PiPress editorial on the Amendment, "Outdoors interests and arts groups are gearing up for a similar budget-by-amendment offering. Some conservatives want to require a public vote every time the Legislature wants to raise taxes."

If you like some, you should be willing to accept all...or articulate the substantial difference, the "bright line", between the "good ones" and "bad ones".
He's right that I can't draw a bright line. So do I have to oppose this amendment? A discussion of this has broken out on our campus list, and one person says as well, "it says we value roads over health, education and public safety. Everything but hunting which has its own constitutional amendment."

My problem with voting no is that if you draw the line there -- and allowing that the hunting provision is an exception -- can you then support TABOR? What would you answer to the people who say TABOR hurts kids in schools, so we must vote against it? And yet we can be quite certain governments will expand spending as a share of income (see Wagner's Law) as they grow. Is this to be checked only by continual voting for legislators, or can we change constitutional rules to stop it?

So maybe that's the rule: We can tell government the total take it can have on our resources, but not where to spend it. That it gets to legislate.