State Tax Limits

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: One vote that might have escaped your attention last month was on a California initiative. No, not affirmative action or stockholder lawsuits. This one was about taxes, and Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says it's one piece of news that should travel.

Californians sent their lawmakers a message: don't raise taxes without our permission.

Voters in California and other states made future tax increases more difficult, reduced taxes or both. A fifth of the nation's population now lives in states with tax limitations. One, I'm pleased to say, is Delaware, which passed a law requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes while I was governor.

The California initiative's opponents said it would cut police, fire, library, park and school services. But voters knew the real score: government had been getting around the original 1978 tax-cutting amendment for years. The new law was designed to close the loopholes.

One analyst said local governments could lose hundreds of millions of dollars, but California voters apparently thought they decided 16 years ago they had final say over tax increases -- and that it was time government lived within its means.

So here's my question: if tax cuts are good for the states, why not at national level? Federal taxation is more obtrusive, less fair, and worse for growth and savings than anything a local government could cook up. California has spoken. Will Washington listen?

Those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Monday, Pete du Pont says protect yourself: the EPA is on the loose.