The career politicians are gnashing their teeth in Nashville. Why? Because they were unable to impose on Tennessee what one-term governor Lowell Weicker was able to foist on Connecticut: a state income tax.
There has been plenty of mumbling in the state legislature over the last few years about imposing this new tax. And plenty of protesting by Tennesseans who think they’re taxed more than enough already, thank you. Most of the protests have been peaceful. More recently, though, taxpayers were banging on the doors of the capitol and buttonholing legislators in the hallways. Crazy, huh? Mere citizens demanding to talk to legislators? That does sound pretty dangerous. Who do they think they are . . . lobbyists?
But you can sort of forgive the impetuosity. After all, Tennessee is a state, just like Connecticut, that does not have any statewide initiative and referendum process. So, it would have been impossible for voters to overturn a bad piece of legislation at the ballot box once their so-called representatives had passed it. State Senator David Fowler was working to place a referendum on the income tax on the ballot, but who knows whether he would have succeeded. Yet, he seems to think his gesture in this direction should have been enough to send people home. “People outside are protesting, not even knowing we were trying to find a way to give them a vote,” he told the press.
But Fowler is either terribly nave or more than a tad disingenuous. Would the senator have gone even this far in recognizing the rights of the voters without all their public protests over the last three years? I don’t think so.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.