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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Transportation Amendment

--posted by Tony Garcia on 11/01/2006

Yes, that is a new icon...the Elections icon. This will also become the Partisan Crap icon for posts about GOP, DEM or both in their partisan stupidity.

Now to the MVST Amendment...

While reading a post from a blogger I hold with high respect (easily more respect than any blogger in the state) I was startled with what I read.
One of the reasons for my ambivalence on the vehicle tax amendment is that it seems likely to produce great pressure on the Legislature next year to raise taxes to fill the hole. You can't see it any more clearly than in this web created by Education Minne$ota. If it passes, expect a great noise from teachers for some kind of mitigation of the loss of funding. 'Mitigation' is a code word for 'tax increase'. Our own faculty union is not taking an official position on this, yet its lobbyist sent EdMinn$ ad piece to us anyway.

That might have tilted my scale to vote for it. Watching that food fight next year in the Legislature would make for great radio and blogging.
At first I thought it may have been tongue in cheek...but after thinking about it some more I believe it was sincere. So here is a great chance to explore the problem with that kind of "voting".

Understand the logic process in deciding how to vote on the MVST.
1. Education MN is against MVST
2. I cannot agree with Education MN
3. I must vote for MVST

Ah, the perils of voting Against a person (or in this case a group).

To vote "YES" simply to oppose the Education Minnesota PAC means two things.

First, specific to THIS vote, is you will be voting for a very bad policy. Even beyond that, if the policy were good then you would be voting for poorly worded policy to be codified in the Constitution. And beyond that you would be voting to remove the legislature from accountability with regards to this aspect of the budget: transportation. And the entire chain of support is simply out of a failure to judge the MVST, instead opting to oppose Education MN.

Second, applicable in ANY vote against...the physical act of voting is an affirmation for a particular choice. (In this case for the ballot question, not for Ed MN.) To make your decision because of Ed MN's position you are erroneously affirming the merits of the ballot based on criteria absolutely independent of the item being voted upon.

People willingly continuing the "vote against" in the face of both of the aforementioned things make me fearful for the state of the electorate in this country.

Why? Because of the path that it leads to AND because it tells me how irresponsibly people treat their voting power.

The Path it leads to? I posit that this will be a growing trend, if the question is approved. In fact, consider this from the PiPress editorial on the Amendment, "Outdoors interests and arts groups are gearing up for a similar budget-by-amendment offering. Some conservatives want to require a public vote every time the Legislature wants to raise taxes."

If you like some budgetary responsibility being shifted to the Constitution then you should be willing to accept all budgetary responsibilities being shifted. The arguements are the same for each. If you are instead thinking you can pick and choose while being intellectually honest to any degree then you have to be able to articulate the substantial difference, the "bright line", between the "good shifts" and "bad shifts".

A comment on the SCSU post wrote the following.
I just sent Education Minne$ota an email saying I would vote YES - I was going to vote no but I am tired of them always screaming "more-more-more".
Essentially this is saying that since the teachers scream 'more-more-more' then the MVST is a good Constitutional Amendment. Help me with that one. I do not see this as a rationale, responsible or thoughtful reason to vote for anything, much less an Amendment to the Constitution.

So, what does Education MN say? Go check the website out for yourself. It is whining about money that MIGHT be lost by the schools. Yes, they are being disingenuous by stating the lost money as a sure thing. No matter what their points about "passing the buck" are dead on accurate AND their whining about their own interests are irrelevant to the merits (or lack thereof) of the MVST Constitutional Amendment.

The aforementioned Pioneer Press editorial about the MVST helps a little bit in describing the shirked responsibility by the legislature with the MVST and the consequent dodging of accountability.
We are coming off a two-year legislative session that included an embarrassing partial state shutdown due to a budget impasse, failure to enact a comprehensive transportation package and an unnecessary fight over the nonexistent "problem" of gay marriage. We do not have to pick sides to blame. Agreement is hard. But it's possible: The same Legislature did find bipartisan agreement on an anti-crime package, a capital projects bill and, eventually, the state budget.

But after the transportation meltdown, we are asked to support an arrangement to bail out our stuck-in-concrete state officials. We should think everyone who is not a candidate for office, and a few who are, would see the permanent harm this amendment will inflict in pursuit of short-term gain.

It is a classic "free turkey," our term for a benefit politicians promise without coming up with the money to pay for it. Economic growth may well cover the transfer, for a time. But there are many other claims on that growth: inflation, fuel costs, health-care, classroom size, nursing home salaries, state workers, teachers, state patrol officers, cleaner air and water, wildlife habitat … need we go on?

This amendment also moves Minnesota closer to California-style governing by ballot provision, with the power shifting to those who have the money to buy television ads. Outdoors interests and arts groups are gearing up for a similar budget-by-amendment offering. Some conservatives want to require a public vote every time the Legislature wants to raise taxes.
Finally, rather than running scared from people you generally do not like who happen to be aligned with you on an issue, embrace the added strength to your side on that issue. The Education MN lobby is adding some much needed help in defeating a very, very bad idea. Embrace their opposition.

Instead of switching your position (in Clinton-esque fashion) on the amendment because Education MN is also opposed, be grateful for the added money to the opposition side. Consider that the pro-amendment group putting out the stupid lawn signs that look like MN license plates have a budget of over $4 million. The group opposed...well, their signs are pdf files that you have to print on you own paper. Any assistance should be welcomed...so long as it is not deceptive.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much as I'd like to vote against the ED union, the MVST appears to be a way to buy trains with gas $$ and not have to beg the public for cash to build more lines.

November 01, 2006  

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