Revolting Developments


George Bush should be gratified to see his campaign rhetoric taken so seriously. Using state ballot initiatives, taxpayers across the country are combining the fiscal conservatism of his "no new taxes" with the grassroots activism of his "thousand points of light."

• The Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights Committee is proposing a tax-limitation amendment to the state constitution.

• National Taxpayers United of Illinois is circulating a petition to require a 60-percent majority in each house of the legislature to raise taxes.

• In Massachusetts, Citizens for Limited Taxation is seeking to repeal the state income-tax increase enacted to cover Gov. Michael Dukakis's spending spree.

• An Oregon taxpayers' group is pushing a 50-percent rollback in property taxes.

• The Missouri Taxpayers Watchdog Association is trying to eliminate the windfall the state has been enjoying since 1986, when it followed the federal government in eliminating deductions but not in lowering income-tax rates.

• Taxpayers' groups in Utah are sponsoring an initiative to exempt food from the state sales tax.

A seventh tax-revolt measure has already been placed on the ballot in North Dakota. In response to a series of referendum petitions, the governor declared a special election for December 5, 1989, to consider repeal of state income-, sales-, and gas-tax increases enacted last spring.

David Keating, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, says these measures represent one of the largest groups of tax initiatives in the past two decades. "I've found a renewed sense of activism at the state and local levels."

To capitalize on that enthusiasm, NTU decided to sponsor what it calls the nation's first conference of state and local taxpayers' groups on December 9–10 in St. Louis. The organizers of the seven state initiative drives were expected to attend, along with activists from throughout the country. In addition to organizing the conference, NTU is compiling a list of local and state taxpayers' groups in an attempt to assemble a nation-wide network.