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September 15, 2006

Tax Revolt 2006 Skids into the Ditch

Little noticed, but the progressive movement had massive victories in multiple states this last week-- victories that mean that millions of children will have better schools and families will have better services and health care. The rightwing had been hoping to export Colorado's "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" (also known as TABOR), a severe tax cutting measure that crippled that state for most of the last decade.

Ballot petitions had been filed in multiple states for TABOR-like initiatives, but this last week in Michigan, Nevada and Montana, state courts and agencies tossed the measures off the ballot-- largely due to variations of fraud committed by rightwing activists. This followed Oklahoma and Missouri tossing similar measures off the bollot earlier in this year.

While TABOR-like initiatives remain on the ballots in Oregon, Maine and Nebraska, the collapse of this rightwing effort in so many states means that progressives will be able to spend their money fighting on other fronts-- rather than draining their budgets to fight the TABOR danger across the country.

What is remarkable is that those funding these initiatives -- centered around a rightwing network led by New York developer and libertarian patron Howie Rich -- could be so reckless and arrogant in their fraud. Examples include:

  • In Michigan, initiatives had such high rates of duplicate and invalid signatures that a startling 40% of the signatures were deemed invalid.
  • In Montana, a judge declared "the signature-gathering process was permeated by a pervasive and general pattern and practice of deceit, fraud and procedural non-compliance" in tossing the initiative and additional companion rightwing propositions.
  • In Nevada, the backers filed one version of the language with the state, then circulated other language to voters asked to sign the initiative-- a clear violation of state law.
  • In Oklahoma, the campaign illegally relied on out-of-state signature gatherers and struck the state's TABOR proposal from the ballot.

Hard work by progressive activists across the country exposed these frauds and deceit, so we all should celebrate these victories. And it's one more example that fraud and illegal behavior have become such constant tools of the rightwing that their arrogance may be catching up with them.

For more on the campaign, see this piece by Progressive States and this earlier one on why TABOR is so threatening to progressive goals in states.

Posted by Nathan at September 15, 2006 01:00 PM