Every month, we hear new estimates of just how big the surplus will be. The latest number by the Office of Management and Budget pegs the projected surplus just less than $1.3 billion, with more than $450 million of that excess revenue occurring outside of the oil-tax windfall the state has enjoyed.
Many people would like to debate which tax is the “right tax to cut,” but the simple fact is that the overall burden is the real issue. The income tax is drawn from every paycheck, and the property tax is paid in one lump sum each year. Yes, the property tax is a real problem, but the 2007 Legislature spent 78 days debating the property tax and came up with an income-tax credit.
Measure 2 at its core is a very simple question for voters: Do you want guaranteed tax relief starting in January, or are you willing to roll the dice to give the Legislature another chance to get it right?
North Dakota is widely thought to have the most citizen-friendly initiative and referendum system in the nation. North Dakota voters have a better chance than do voters in any other state of directly influencing the laws and political climate of our state. This chance for direct democracy was in large part obtained by the reforms of the Non-Partisan League during the 20th century’s teens and ’20s.
We have to be careful about how we use initiative and referendum, but it is completely appropriate in times such as these to go to the people and ask them if they like the way things are going in government. Beyond cutting taxes, Measure 2 certainly performs the task of taking the pulse of the people, which is something most lawmakers will appreciate, whether they admit it in public or not.
Gawrylow is the state policy director at Americans for Prosperity of North Dakota.