In one of the more surprising developments of recent times there is an economic boom in the state of
North Dakota. Really, there is. This largely rural state with its harsh
climate had been considered an economic problem state, but with high agriculture
prices, development of energy resources and recognition of a culture that is
surprisingly sophisticated it turns out that economic development in the state
In fact, with government coffers filling up with money the state seemed a natural place for the “I hate taxes and I hate government” crowd to win a huge victory by having a referendum on banning property taxes in the state. It seemed like no contest, solidly Conservative voters would surely overwhelmingly vote to eliminate hated taxes.
Well the citizens of North Dakota did vote overwhelmingly on the issue, but to reject and not to approve the ban on property taxes. And when we say ‘overwhelmingly’ we mean overwhelmingly.
As of 10:45 p.m., Measure 2, which sought to eliminate property taxes, is badly trailing, with 77 percent rejecting the proposal and 23 percent favoring. Those results are with 324 of the state’s 426 precincts reporting.
The prospect that oil-rich
could be the first state in the nation to cast off property taxes attracted
national attention, but a cool response from voters. North Dakota
What happened? It turns out the people of North Dakota understand economics a lot better than those highly educated, well credentialed erudite folks who write editorials and commentary for the Wall Street Journal.
“I think North Dakotans understand that government isn’t free,” said Andy Peterson, president of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and a spokesman for the Keep it Local coalition, which opposed Measure 2.
Voters weren’t persuaded that the state’s coffers were flush enough with oil money or other revenues to discard the property tax, he said, a central claim of the Measure 2 backers, Empower the Taxpayer.
“The citizens didn’t buy that argument,” Peterson said. They didn’t want to sacrifice local government and they didn’t want to sacrifice their schools.”
As a small state with strong local government
North Dakotans have demonstrated a basic principle. Voters want good government, they want
efficient government and if they have these things they understand they have to
be taxed to pay for them. Not something
they understand at national headquarters of either political party. Republicans refuse to recognize that taxes are necessary, and Democrats do not seem to understand that good government must be delivered to be elected and govern.