Reforming state government is the right thing to do. And sometimes, it happens to be great politics. A conservative majority shouldn’t pass up those win-win opportunities.
Take three constitutional amendments being considered by the legislature:
Letting voters decide if we should lower the state income tax cap, and put a tighter handcuff of big-spending politicians, is good policy. Reformers have cut the income tax over the past few years, and the state got budget surpluses, more tax relief, a quantum leap in teacher pay and a fully funded savings reserve.
Protecting private property and the rights of hunters in the constitution also are common sense. So reformers in the State Senate rightly voted to put all three issues on the November ballot.
We now know all three constitutional amendments are good politics, too.
A statewide poll conducted by Carolina Partnership for Reform earlier this month showed North Carolinians in competitive house districts support a vote on the income tax cap by a 29-point margin, the eminent domain amendment by 39 points, and the Constitutional right to hunt and fish by a whopping 62 points. Each of those even passed by wide margins in Democrat strongholds.
In the same swing districts, Democrats are up 8 points on the generic legislative ballot, signaling a tough fight this fall for many Republicans.
So in a dicey election year, the majority can pass good, reform-minded policy with a political upside. Conservative policy that could be the difference in key races. It’s a no-brainer.
So why the cold feet? The word on Jones St. is that some legislators want to take a pass, and opt to put nothing in front of voters in November.
That would be unfortunate. Unfortunate for the future of the state. Unfortunate for voters who want reform. And unfortunate for legislators who might not be back in 2017, but could have been saved.