Californians have a plethora of fiscal related ballot initiatives to vote on in November.
In addition to Proposition 24 (ending business tax breaks), voters will be asked whether to impose an $18 vehicle fee to fund the state park system (Prop 21), amend the state Constitution to take away the state’s ability to borrow or shift revenues that fund transportation programs (Prop 22), allow for a simple majority legislative vote requirement for passage of the state budget (Prop 25), and reclassify certain fees as taxes meaning that legislative votes on fees would then require the now necessary two-thirds approval for passage of tax increases.
The California Budget Project has published five informative budget briefs on the propositions that are very helpful tools for voters.
In Massachusetts, a diverse coalition of businesses, advocacy organizations, citizens groups and political leaders have lined up to defeat Question 3, an initiative that would cut the state’s sales tax rate from 6.25 to 3 percent. Opponents argue that the resulting annual loss of $2.5 billion from the proposed cut would cripple the state’s ability to provide core services such as education and public safety to Massachusetts residents. Despite the depth and fundraising power of the opposing coalition, recent polling showed residents are pretty much split on whether or not the proposal is a good idea for the state.
This November, Missouri voters will be asked to make a judgment call on Amendment 2. If passed, this constitutional amendment would exempt fully disabled prisoners of war (POWs) from paying property taxes. Of course, everyone respects the sacrifice that POWs made, but this Amendment raises some important tax policy concerns.
First, should tax policies, especially ones that will assist so few people (estimates are that only 100 people would be impacted), really be written into a state's constitution?
Secondly, is it fair to single out a specific group of people and offer them a tax break? Missouri already allows countless exemptions and offers special treatment to a variety of taxpayers. Perpetuating this treatment of special groups violates fundamental tax fairness principles. In fact, most veterans already qualify for a special property tax credit.
We couldn't agree more with the Kansas City Star when it opines, "Disabled prisoners of war are deserving of honor. But changing property tax laws isn’t the way to do it."