It is an undeniable understatement to say Republicans detest taxes nearly as much as they hate Americans who are not part of the wealthy elite class. However, even anti-tax and anti-government Republican governors cannot deny their states require just enough revenue to keep the people from revolting over myriad government breakdowns due to a lack of funding. Even though most Republican governors are wary of going all-in on tax cuts for the rich and corporations like trickle-down failure Kansas governor Sam Brownback, they are going all in to raise taxes on their poor and middle class residents to avoid putting any “financial strain” on their wealthiest donors and their corporations.
It is likely that at least eight Republican governors are aware that according to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the crushing lack of revenue growth in Republican states is not enough to maintain even basic services and meet their constituents’ increasing demands to spend more on education, roads, social programs, and prisons. According to NASBO executive director Scott D. Pattison, some Republican governors “realize that money is tight, and there’s not enough to go around even if you just want to do the basics, like fund K-through-12 education and Medicaid. What’s going to happen is that elected officials want to implement tax cuts, but they can’t do anything significant or dramatic.” Translation: no tax hikes unless they are consumption-based to put all the burden on people further down the income ladder; the middle class and the poor.
For most legislatures in Republican states, the idea of tax hikes at all are an abomination and it is a factor anti-tax and anti-government crusader Grover Norquist noted will put a damper on governors’ intent on raising any kind of taxes. He said he was “annoyed by some governors who were calling for tax hikes” and accused Nevada Governor- Brian Sandoval as “really bad on taxes.
You can’t just look at governors these days. You’ve got to look at the legislatures” who will oppose any kind of tax increases regardless their state’s fiscal situation. Norquist went on to tout a few red state legislatures that are “much more anti-government, pro-growth, and anti-tax than their governors.” Nevada is one of those states.
Sandoval recently proposed a $1.1 billion tax increase for education that drew an immediate response from Republicans in the state legislature who promised that “whether we kill it by five votes or 15 votes or 25 votes, we are going to kill it.” For his part, Sandoval said he expected it to face opposition, but argued that the state needed to do something to improve its education system. “What we must all agree on is that another generation of young Nevadans cannot move through our schools without more resources, and that we must modernize our revenue system.” However, no Nevadan should expect new funding to come at all, much less from the rich; something all Republican legislatures, the Koch Congress, and red state administrations concur on.
For example, in Maine, Governor Paul R. LePage called for increases in sales tax and subjecting “more goods and services” used by the poor and middle class with tax hikes to offset cuts to personal income tax and eliminating the estate tax; all to benefit the rich. Le Page is aligned with other Republican governors who are proposing increases in the sales tax, gas tax, liquor tax, tobacco tax, and several other levies to offset the larger cost of eliminating personal income taxes for the rich.
In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder proposed increasing the gas and sales tax to cover shortfalls in spending on roads and bridges, but the Republican legislature said it was not happening. Eventually they agreed to compromise with Snyder and let voters decide to raise gas and sales tax, but not income tax because it might affect the wealthy and corporations.
Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota proposed raising the gas tax and several other “consumption-based taxes and fees” because highway funding is falling short. Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert already raised taxes on tobacco and proposed extending it to e-cigarettes, and said he was open to an increase in the gasoline tax. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said she might allow the state legislature to raise its gas tax, but only if the legislature cut the income tax by almost a third and reformed (read slash) the State Transportation Department.
Republicans will do anything possible to prop up their state economies so long as they can preserve major reductions to, or eliminate altogether, income taxes that may affect the rich. As the director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Michael Leachman, said “there is no evidence that cutting the income tax or other taxes creates jobs or attracts business. In a study conducted by Leachman, states that cut personal income taxes the most during the 1990s grew more slowly than the nation average and the only three that did experience growth were “energy-rich states benefitting from higher gas prices.”
As usual, Republicans of all stripes claim that drastically cutting, or eliminating, income taxes are crucial, and proven, to boost economic growth. But that is a contention that has proven false for thirty years and most recently a shown to be a certifiable fiscal disaster as evidenced by Brownback’s continuing tax-cutting exercise in Kansas. As Leachman and every economist on Earth understands, replacing income tax revenue with consumption-based taxes does nothing except put the entire burden on the poor and middle class. It is why President Obama and most Democrats believe that “If there’s a tax cut, we think it should benefit the middle class and not disproportionately benefit the upper classes.”
However, Republicans exist to benefit the “upper classes” and they will raise taxes on the poor and middle class through scams like raising the gas tax, implementing a flat tax, expanding the tax base, or preaching tax reform; all terms Americans have heard before and will hear much more in the coming months from the likes of Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan. Ryan and Republicans’ goal is simple; to shift what little is left from so-called “takers” to the rich he calls makers. It is a lesson for all Americans to beware any Republican who claims they will consider raising taxes because it will always impact those who can least afford it; anyone except the filthy rich.