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Limited government begins at home: 2012 ballot measure overview

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 5, 2012 11:14 AM

If you’re lucky (or smart) enough to live in a state that has initiative and referenda, you face important choices tomorrow that will give you control over critical fiscal policy and limited government issues. According to Ballotpedia, there are a total of 176 measures in 38 states on the Election Day ballot. Full list here.

The National Taxpayers Union sums up some of the key themes:

Sales tax increases are prompting contentious debate in Arizona, Arkansas, and South Dakota. Arizona will either prove, or perhaps disprove, the adage that there is nothing more permanent than a temporary tax when voters decide whether to keep a one billion dollar “temporary” sales tax hike from 2010.

Major tax hikes loom in California with two proposals: Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30 plan totals to an estimated $7 billion a year through a sales tax hike and income tax increase on “high-wage” earners. Activist Molly Munger’s Prop. 38 would outdo that, at a cost of $10 billion, thanks largely to a tax hike on everyone making more than $7,300.

Missouri will decide whether or not to raise their cigarette tax rate, currently lowest in the nation. The low rate helps Missouri attract sales from out-of-state, and revenue projections on cigarettes are notoriously shaky. An NTU study found 41 of 59 state tobacco tax increases did not live up to predictions and led to more tax hikes.

Taxpayer protections are on the ballot in Florida, Michigan and Washington, that would require a two-thirds legislative majority vote for most tax increases, or in some cases a vote of the people. Also, a full constitutional ban on an income tax will be considered in New Hampshire.

Property taxes have been rough on homeowners during this recession as the housing market collapsed. Arizona, Oklahoma, and Florida will all give their citizens the opportunity to cap the rate at which property taxes increase (5% per year for Arizona, and 3% for Oklahoma and Florida).

Tangible and intangible property tax reform will also be considered in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Florida. Arizona and Florida’s proposals would increase the exemption on tangible business items like furniture. Oklahoma would do away with notoriously difficult-to-enforce intangible property taxes on things like patents or brands.

Soda and so-called “junk food” taxes have become hot commodities for policy makers seeking revenue and influence on citizens’ lifestyles. This year Richmond and El Monte, CA will allow voters to decide on new soda taxes.

The Soros-funded Left has gone particularly nuts over the 2/3rds supermajority ballot proposals in Florida, Michigan, and Washington that would rein in tax-happy legislators. Here in Colorado, our voter-approved taxpayer bill of rights constitutional amendment turned 20. It has been an asset to voters who believe in fiscal discipline and thrift — and a bane to big-spending politicians in both parties who chafe at taxpayer accountability. As the Colorado Gazette editorial board put it:

What politicians despise about TABOR is the fact it makes them ask the governed just how much government they want. It makes politicians and bureaucrats genuine servants of the governed.

The political class complains about spending limits, yet there is not one limitation in TABOR that cannot be removed. If politicians want to spend more, they must ask the people who elected them to serve. That’s the entire point of TABOR. It allows the governed to determine the size and scope of the government they fund. The interests of the governed are all that should matter to those we elect to manage taxpayer funds.

When politicians refuse to serve the people and stop the profligacy, it’s up to the people to do it themselves. Get informed, get out the vote, and play your part. The fight for limited government starts in our own backyards.

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