My column this week focuses on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that 19 legislators signed before this year’s session. I don’t think they should have done so.
The pledge was pushed by Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, D.C., outfit led by Grover Norquist that opposes all tax increases. It states that legislators will “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
My point in the column is that signing such a pledge makes legislators beholden to a special interest group like ATR and forces them into rigid ideological positions.
That dynamic was clearly at work in this session. When faced with the question of allowing Arkansans to vote on highway tax increases, at least two legislators have said that, rather than letting their consciences be their guides, they instead relied on Norquist. Moreover, the pledge forced legislators into performing all kinds of moral and mental gymnastics. Five didn’t vote for or against a $1 fee increase to fund the Arkansas State Police retirement fund. I’m pretty sure the pledge was the reason they took that somewhat wishy-washy route.
What about you? Should legislators sign such pledges before a session?
By the way, here is the list of signers.