Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Political Desk - Advisory Votes: Whole Lotta Nothing

We have FIVE Advisory Votes on the ballot, which are the result of our badly-sprained initiative process. These are tax measures with have been approved by the legislature, but due to our system, now have to be brought before the people. BUT they are just advisory, which means that they really don’t mean squat – they at best can provide cover for the politicians who voted with the people, or allow a claim of personal heroism for those that voted against it.

Further, all of them take the following format: “The legislature eliminated/extended, without a vote of the people, [some loophole or special consideration], costing approximately [large sum of money] in the first ten years  (so divide that number by 10, which makes it less large) , for government spending.” That is pretty scary language to say – We did “THIS” which will bring in “THIS MUCH MONEY” for the budget and probably doesn't affect you directly.

And the thing is, almost all these things are extensions of existing taxes or eliminations of loopholes. But due to our TOTAL FREAKOUT about anything that even smells of taxes, they are referred to as “a new tax”, which they really aren’t. And then we ask you, the voters to Maintain or Repeal this “new tax”

Let me get to the quick of it. If you hate taxes in any form, under any definition, against anybody, and want a magic pony that you don’t have to feed or clean up after, you should vote to repeal all of these. If you feel this process is more than a little broken, but want to keep them from looking in your pocket for more operating revenues, vote to MAINTAIN these decisions.

And, if you want to know what you are voting on, here’s the deal.

Advisory Vote No. 3 (Substitute Senate Bill 5444) eliminates a tax credit for taxpayers who lease publicly-held property.
Advisory Vote No. 4 (Senate Bill 5627) -  CREATES an excise tax on commuter air carriers instead of a property tax. (Does this mean they are no longer paying property taxes? Is this a tax change as opposed to a tax increase or maybe a tax shift or a tax polymorph?)
Advisory Vote No. 5 (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1846) extends an insurance premium tax for some insurance on pediatric oral services (Braces? Surgery? The little toothbrushes they put in the bag?)
Advisory Vote No. 6 (Second Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1971) eliminates a retail tax exemption on certain telephone and telecommunications systems.
Advisory Vote No. 7 (Engrossed House Bill 2075) extends an estate tax on certain high-valued property.

You see part of the problem here as well. CERTAIN properties? SOME insurance? Which ones? The Voters’ Guide is unclear, as the law does not require explanatory statements or arguments for or against. It does give us a list of how these votes originally passed, and to be frank, there are not any that are even close. (and most of the guys I’ve endorsed in the past have voted Yea on these, so since I PUT these guys in charge to do exactly these votes, I'm going to support them).

I’m going for MAINTAIN on these non-binding bits of political theater, but I do want to know more about the Second Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1971 (to see if it includes candlestick phones). But that’s just me.