First Rule of Government – Government never has enough money,
There is always a good excuse for bigger government and higher taxes. If office holders think it is their job to “be responsible,” they will always be persuaded to raise taxes, because those who get and spend the money will show the officeholder why the taxes are necessary, or how the officeholder will benefit if they vote for the new taxes. What they won’t do is tell them what the voters will do when that officeholder seeks higher office. Most of the tax increase votes described below came when the state was facing dire financial circumstances, and the voters were still unforgiving. Think of how they will feel when there is no serious financial consequences for the state if the the tax increase is voted down.
Don’t get me wrong, those who are thinking of voting for the tax increase this year may not lose their primary (although that is not a guarantee), but they will most undoubtedly lose if they seek any other office. Ask Assemblyman Dick Dickerson, who, in 2001, voted for tax increase because he was sold that it would help his rural district. When he ran for State Senate against Assemblyman Sam Aanested for the Senate for the Eastern Northern California Senate District, all Assemblyman Aanested did was say, at every turn, “Dickerson voted to raise your taxes.” Today, people call Sam Aanested a retired Senator. No one remembers Dick Dickerson.
Or ask Mike Briggs, who voted for the same tax increase, because he was promised an open Congressional District. Today, that district belongs to Congressman Devin Nunes, who cleaned Briggs clock on the vote for the tax increase.
Or ask Roger Niello, whose vote for a tax increase in 2009 ensured that Senator Ted Gaines would win the primary when the two faced off for the Senate seat.
Or how about Assemblyman Anthony Adams, who chose a gubernatorial appointment rather than face primary voters after he voted for a tax increase (an appointment that ended soon after Brown became Governor).
These are just the most recent stories. Anyone who votes for the tax increase, and expects to have a chance at a Congressional or other legislative seat can pretty much write it off. Voters don’t have to remember the vote, opponents will be quick to point it out, and, most times, will end the political careers of those who voted for the tax increase.
Officeholders may not care about how the Republican Party gets hurt by joining forces with the Democrats to line the pockets of the bureaucracy. In California, the Republican Party has fallen so far that they are actually considering a tax increase to be relevant. Some officeholders may think how can we hurt ourselves anymore.
They may think they are doing the “responsible” thing by increasing revenue, or doing something good for their district, or even themselves by voting for the increase. They are not. They are simply feeding the already overbloated state or local bureaucracy.
The fact is they are putting a ceiling on their political career, or perhaps even ending it. I think every legislative leader needs to explain that reality to their members before asking for the vote. They are hurting their members by putting them in the position of voting for a tax increase. That is a big deal to the individual members, and most don’t know the history I just explained. Now they do, now there is no excuse.