It’s informational. Even if you lose, it tells you something.
That’s what Dane Waters of the Initiative and Referendum Institute says about the initiative process. People tend to be a little conservative about change. But even if your ballot initiative loses, at least you can get a discussion going about an issue. And maybe next time around, after a little more debate, public opinion will shift in your direction.
Taxes were one major issue this past election. Several efforts to increase taxes went down to defeat. In Northern Virginia, voters killed a half-cent sales tax increase. Meanwhile, measures to limit taxation succeeded. In Washington state, voters enacted a law to limit vehicle license fees and to require the consent of the voters for any new transportation taxes. In Georgia, voters increased the tangible personal tax exemption.
One of the most sweeping tax-break measures was defeated, however. That was the initiative to eliminate the state income tax in Massachusetts also known as Taxachusetts. Only 45 percent of the voters were in favor. But it was such a radical proposal, nobody expected anywhere near that high a Yes vote. So it seems that anti-tax sentiment in Massachusetts is much more prevalent than people had thought.
And up until now, that really had no way of being channeled politically except through a citizen initiative. It’s not like the career politicians in Boston were ever going to eliminate the income tax all by themselves. Yes, even a failed initiative tells you something about the electorate. Interesting.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.