A Pleasant Side Effect of the Tea Party Movement

The Springfield News-Leader notices that the tax initiatives on the ballot are now getting organized opposition:

A quarter-cent Capital Improvement Program sales tax that has been renewed six times in the past is up for renewal again on June 8.

But for the first time that anyone can remember, there is organized opposition to the tax that resurfaces streets, builds sidewalks and improves intersections.

“People need a break right now,” said Steven Reed, a sales tax opponent who acknowledged recycling “Vote No” yard signs from the recent pension sales tax vote for the upcoming CIP sales tax election.

I’ve always seen organized support for pretty much every tax increase I’ve seen on a ballot, often because tax dollars or existing union or other existing organization money is behind it along with the actual organizations themselves. The side of increasing taxes has always had targeted true believers for each cause (people who like libraries acting to support those initiatives, teachers and school boosters acting to support property tax increases, and so on).

I attribute the new rise of anti-tax supporters directly to the Tea Party movement because I know that the people who opposed, unsuccessfully, the St. Louis County Metro sales tax on a recent ballot were Tea Partiers. Now we will see some real effort and opposition to tax increases that will stun people who’ve supported the tax increases on autopilot for the last several decades.

However, yard signs won’t be enough. To succeed, the opposition needs to master Get Out The Vote efforts. A lot of these taxes are stuck on off ballots in the spring or the summer when turnout is low and favors the true believers out to get the thing passed. I recall voting against a property tax increase for the library in Webster Groves (where I was and still am a dues paying Friend of the Library) on a ten degree February day. The tax increase was the only thing on the ballot, but I carved thirty minutes out of my day to go to the polling place and cast my vote. I didn’t have to wait in line, as only a couple hundred voters out of a population of 23,000 showed up. Mostly to support the proposition.

I think the new organization and connections that the Tea Party Movement has made will provide some good energy to drive people to the polls to counteract the continual ratcheting up of tax rates, a half percent here and fifty dollars annually on your assessed value there. I welcome it. Maybe it will compel the government and our elected and unelected municipal leaders to make priorities to spend existing tax revenue accordingly instead of continually going to the bottomless well of citizen pockets.

But it will take effort every time. Don’t just remember November. Remember February, April, June, and whenever they sneak the initiatives in.

4 thoughts on “A Pleasant Side Effect of the Tea Party Movement

  1. On principle, I always vote against tax referenda where supportive ads say “People who like to molest puppies oppose Issue 7. Vote ‘yes’ on Issue 7” without providing any more information on what the hell Issue 7 is about.

  2. I vote against them all pretty much as a matter of principle.

    For example, the city of Springfield has a ballot issue to extend a sales tax to pay for capital improvements and whatnot (as I’ve mentioned before). Meanwhile, the city of Springfield plans to spend $600,000 out of other monies to put up fashionable (as in all the other cities do it!) wayfinding signs paid out of other monies.

    The continual parade of ballot initiatives allows our leaders to abdicate prioritizing these projects. Firefighters pension or tax incentives and abatements to a sports team? Why decide when you can make the voters say the former is vital and not rule on the second one at all?

  3. I think you’re being a bit facetious, TIR.

    Isn’t it funny, though, how core services always come up for dedicated ballot initiatives, but the lesser programs (and the programs probably not supported by a majority of voters) never do?

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