Republican state lawmakers are taking preemptive action to make it harder for Democrats to raise taxes and enact a progressive agenda if they score big election victories this year. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports that Florida Republicans have approved a November referendum that would require a two-thirds supermajority of the state legislature to enact any new taxes.
At least 14 states already have such supermajority tax laws on the books, Stein reports, citing data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Conservatives and business groups are now pushing similar plans in Oregon and North Carolina as well as Florida, Meg Wiehe, a tax analyst at the liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy tells Stein.
The North Carolina ballot initiative would change the state constitution to lower the maximum income tax rate from 10 percent to 7 percent. If approved, any increase above 7 percent would then require the constitution to be changed again.
Why it matters: Supermajority requirements could make it nearly impossible for Democrats to raise revenue to pay for social programs, education spending or other items on their agenda. "These supermajority rules make policymaking incredibly difficult," Elaine Maag of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center tells Stein. "If a state can't increase spending because of these very high bars for raising taxes, they can't expand programs even if people in the state want them."