02/10/04 — Trend? A little optimism about fiscal sanity

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Trend? A little optimism about fiscal sanity

During this time between the first of the year and April 15, the deadline for coughing up our annual tribute to Big Government, there usually is little to make us smile when we think of taxes.

We have just seen taxes increase at other levels, and some members of Congress and presidential candidates say they will fight to repeal President Bush’s federal tax cuts. Woe is we.

But — aha! — a bit of good news blows in from the west.

It was almost unnoticed last Tuesday because seven states held Democratic presidential primaries, but they voted in Oregon, too. Not for presidential candidates, but on whether their state taxes could be raised.

No, they said on their ballots, they wouldn’t stand for it.

What makes this particularly pleasing is that Oregon voters nearly always vote liberal. You wouldn’t ordinarily expect a crowd like that to protest a tax hike.

But when the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski passed an $800 million state tax increase last August, it was too much for some Oregonians, including Jason Williams of the Taxpayers Association of Oregon. They invoked a provision in Oregon law that allows citizens to collect signatures on a petition to put such a matter to a referendum.

And they whupped it big-time, 60 percent to 40 percent.

This follows the vote in California last year to throw out Gov. Gray Davis for budgetary insanity. California, too, is a place where widespread appreciation of logic is somewhat new. (Well, it comes and goes. The Californians did elect Ronald Reagan as governor.}

Anyhow, can two states voting in favor of reason indicate a trend? Are more people beginning to realize the foolishness of adding taxes on taxes year after year after year?

It’s a thought worth smiling about, even as April 15 approaches.

Published in Editorials on February 10, 2004 12:14 PM