It’s great to have protection. I think you know what I mean. The right of initiative and referendum. The right to directly pass a good law or knock out a bad one. The right to govern your governors.
Maybe you remember Proposition 13, the California law passed in the 1970s that limited property taxes. Prop 13 allowed many homeowners to keep their homes. It was the beginning of a tax revolt that swept the nation. But what if you have a tax revolt and no power of initiative? Well, you’re up the creek without a paddle, basically. The politicians will do whatever they want to you. Take Connecticut, for example.
Connecticut used to be one of a handful of states that did not impose a personal income tax. People moved to Connecticut to take advantage of the more favorable tax climate. It was good thing. In 1990 a Republican named Lowell Weicker ran for governor in Connecticut. He promised he would never impose a state income tax if he were governor. Then, as soon as he became governor, he pushed the legislature to adopt a state income tax.
People were angry, people were upset. A public rally was attended by 65,000 furious residents. But Connecticut voters do not have the legal power to repeal measures or put a referendum on the ballot. No protection. Sure, Weicker paid a political price, choosing (wisely) not to face the voters for reelection. But the income tax remains. In 24 states, citizens have the right of initiative and referendum. Twenty-four down, 26 to go.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.