I voted today, and there was only one issue of interest. It was a local issue — whether or not to impose a 1% Sales Tax increase locally to fund “the arts.”
I’m an artist. I’ve got a degree in the fine arts. My wife studied humanities. My living is “the arts.” So of course I voted HELL NO.
Why? Because taxes that are earmarked for specific funds or causes encourage fiscal irresponsibility, and put government on autopilot with regards to spending. This same principle came up a year ago with “Initiative One” in Utah, and I voted against that, too. I’m not opposed to environmentally friendly initiatives like that one claimed to be, but it was fiscally irresponsible, so I voted “no.”
If my local and state representatives want to spend money on arts, or the environment, or anything else, they need to be prioritizing those expenditures against everything else they want to spend money on. Compared with the rest of the nation, Utah has the third-highest state-and-local tax burden, measured as a percentage of average family income: 15.1% (NH is #50 with 10.3%). Adding a sales tax to that burden is preposterous.
Utah is one of the most (if not THE most) “conservative” states in the Union, but apparently it’s social conservatism as opposed to fiscal conservatism.
(For the record, I’m not going to debate social issues in this post, and neither are you.)
I’m a big fan of fiscal conservatism. Government needs to be lean and very responsible, not lazy and bloated. From the looks of things, Utah’s state legislature needs to be shaken down a bit. Hopefully the defeat of Initiative One last year, and the defeat (maybe) of Orem’s RAP tax this year will send a message.