Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Arnold of Ohio

In today’s Wall Street Journal ("Review and Outlook") there is an article on Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s attemtp to become not only a tax cutter, but also to set "off a useful debate about whether the Republican Party in Ohio stands for anything except retaining power." Blackwell’s political gambit, it goes almost without saying, could have massive consequences for state politics, as well as his own political career. Here is about the first half of the article. You should read the rest in the Journal.

"California isn’t alone. Back East another revolt is brewing against politicians who break their word and raise taxes. This time it’s against the Republicans who’ve been running Ohio’s state government for what seems to be entirely too long.

The ringleader is Ken Blackwell, Secretary of State and apparently a rare Republican who understands that Ohio needs some fiscal discipline. Over the summer Governor Bob Taft and state lawmakers pulled a fast one on taxpayers, approving a 20% sales tax hike as part of an omnibus two-year budget package.

The increase is the largest in state history, and it came after the Governor specifically and repeatedly promised supporters that he would oppose broad-based tax hikes without a public vote. Less than a year ago, the second-term Governor could be found on the campaign trail referring to Democratic opponent Timothy Hagen as ’Tax-Hike Tim.’

Now Tax-Hike Taft’s decision to go back on his word has prompted Mr. Blackwell to do what the Governor originally promised: Take any large tax increase directly to the voters. Mr. Blackwell is leading an effort to repeal the levy, a process that requires him first to gather 96,870 signatures by December 20. If that happens, a bill will be put before the legislature asking it to reconsider the tax increase. If it refuses, Mr. Blackwell says he will gather the necessary additional signatures to ’place the tax repeal directly in the hands of outraged taxpayers on November 2, 2004.’"

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