Consent of the governed
Here is something Alaskans could – and should – eagerly get behind: a proposal, House Joint Resolution 1, that would amend the state constitution to prohibit implementation of state sales or personal income taxes without voter approval.
It makes perfectly good sense in a consent-of-the-governed way, although the tax-and-spend, big-government crowd in the Legislature is sure to go bonkers at Sutton Republican Rep. George Rauscher’s measure, a bill pre-filed ahead of the scheduled Jan. 15 opening of the Legislature in Juneau.
Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming all eschew income taxes. Another two states, Tennessee and New Hampshire, do not tax income, but do tax interest and dividends.
Florida’s Constitution bars implementation of an income tax without an amendment, and that takes a 60 percent vote of the people. Nevada’s Constitution bars income and inheritance taxes. South Dakota abandoned an income tax in 1943. The Texas Constitution requires voter approval of any income tax. Washington? Adopted one in 1932, but it was declared unconstitutional. Wyoming could levy an income tax, but residents would be able to deduct what they had paid that year in sales and property taxes.
Alaska had one, but it was repealed in 1980 with the flood of oil revenue, much to the chagrin of the Left, which has wanted it reinstated ever since. If you will recall, at former Gov. Bill Walker’s behest, the Democrat-led House two years ago approved – and the Republican-majority Senate wisely sank – an income tax bill aimed at putting a dent in the state’s chronic, multibillion-dollar budget deficit.
Walker also pushed for taxes on motor fuels, cigarettes, alcohol and anything else not nailed down. They did not go anywhere, but they certainly could in the future – with the right Legislature.
Rauscher is right – the people absolutely should be asked whether they want the government reaching further into their pockets.
“What I’m saying is if we are going to ask them to fork over money out of their pockets out of our deficit, then I think we should be asking them if it’s a good way to do it,” he told KTVA.
If Rauscher’s resolution can muster a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Legislature, it would appear on the state’s 2020 election ballot.
What are the odds? Lawmakers generally listen to their constituents, especially large numbers of their constituents. Do not be bashful. Tell them what you think.