When state governments make it nearly impossible to raise taxes to pay their bills, their creditors apparently get very nervous and increase their costs to borrow money. Both Arizona and California have seen their bond ratings downgraded -- and their borrowing costs likely increasing -- with analysts citing both states' tax limitation rules that require a two-thirds vote of their legislatures to raise taxes as one reason.
The challenge for progressives from this “states rights” movement is not that any of these laws are likely to survive in court, but that conservatives too often get away with claiming to stand for constitutional values without significant challenge from progressives. The reality is that the right wing has no credibility in promoting their states’ rights arguments and should be challenged more directly. As this Dispatch will outline, their arguments fail on multiple grounds.
As this Dispatch will detail, these votes mirror actions taking
place in both conservative and progressive states and localities around
the country. In 2009 and 2010, states have enacted a wide-ranging set
of revenue increases to cope with cumulative 2010 and 2011 deficits of
approximately $375 billion. Although revenue forecasts are improving,
states are still reeling from historic declines in the past year.
What is remarkable is that the anti-tax movement has wracked up such
regular failures in the crisis, as even many state leaders previously
signing "no taxes" pledges have reneged on them. Instead, popular
demand for new revenue to avert budget cuts has driven legislative
movement on progressive tax and budget policy.
Adding to the general public support has been research consistently
showing that progressive revenue increases during a downturn is a better
alternative to cuts in order to promote growth and protect vulnerable
populations suffering during the recession.
Finally, this Dispatch will outline some of the effective
messaging and research to demonstrate to voters that progressive
measures and tax increases are economically sound and go to the programs
they want preserved -- the critical step in the success of revenue