Government Bytes

Blog 

Election 2010: What a night

by John Stephenson / /

Oh what a night!

 

As of this morning, Republicans won 60 additional seats andcontrol of the U.S. House of Representatives. Also, Republicans expanded thesize of their caucus by six in the Senate. These two changes that will haveserious implications for a host of economic policies at the national level,including energy production, taxes, entitlements, and the debt. My colleagueJordan Forbes will have more to say about the federal results soon.

 

But for all of the dramatic change at the federal level,what happened in Congress pales in comparison to the changes that voters made atthe state level. Republicans picked up nine governorships, including several inthe economically important Midwestern states, and won control of 18 statelegislative bodies, including chambers in North Carolina and Alabama; todaymarks the first time since Reconstruction the GOP has controlled thosechambers. The larger number of fiscal conservatives in state legislativechambers will have a significant impact on the next round of budgetnegotiations, when states will have to face no easy choices to balance thebudget in the midst of uncertain economic times.

 

Voters also weighed in on hundreds of state and local ballotmeasures that affect tax and budget policies. There were several setbacks fortaxpayers yesterday. It appears as though voters rejected efforts to reducetaxes income and property taxes in Colorado and sales taxes in Massachusetts. Additionally,California passed a measure that would allow the legislature to enact a budgetwith a simple majority vote, which will likely open the door to more tax hikes.Unfortunately, Californians also rejected an effort to repeal a costlycap-and-trade emissions program in the state. However, at the same time,Californians voted to require supermajority votes on fees and to prevent thestate from raiding funds for local government.

 

But taxpayers did score several important victories. Despiterejecting a broad reduction in the sales tax, Massachusetts approved a cut inthe sales tax on alcoholic beverages. Washington voters resoundingly rejectedan effort to enact a new state income tax and approved a measure rolling back atax on soda, candy, and bottled water. Washingtonians also voted for a measureto require a supermajority in the legislature for any tax increase. Missouriansvoted overwhelmingly to require votes on local earnings taxes. Meanwhile, Indianaapproved a measure to enshrine caps on property tax increases in the state’sconstitution.

 

Elsewhere, Arizona and Oklahoma approved measures thatprojected the right to choose a health care plan from the individual insurancemandate in Obamacare. Several states, including Oklahoma, South Carolina, andVirginia approved measures to increase the size of their rainy day funds toweather bad economic times. Other states also approved measures that wouldprovide property tax exemptions, impose term limits, and improve governmentaccountability.

 

Of course, these are just a sample of the hundreds ofmeasures that NTU is analyzing for its report showing how taxpayers fared atthe ballot box yesterday. Stay tuned.