Clint Bolick

Say What?

Posted on September 24, 2007 | Author: Clint Bolick
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This month's propositions to hike Phoenix's sales tax and hang on to home-rule powers won a resounding majority-of the tiny fraction who voted. According to the Arizona Republic, a paltry 17 percent of the Phoenix electorate voted, down 15 percent from four years ago, in the election for mayor, city council members, and ballot propositions.­

Mayor Phil Gordon, who championed the sales tax hike and was re-elected easily, called the vote an expression of community support for "an energetic agenda." Or, perhaps voters are apathetic and cynical, as suggested by the rejection of a measure to increase salaries for the mayor and council.

Even though the tax hike was backed by two-thirds of those who actually voted, a whopping 88.5 percent of Phoenix voters either opposed it or stayed home.­ Not exactly a mandate.
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Local governments often put spending measures on off-year ballots, when special interest groups are motivated to come out but few regular voters pay attention.­ Thankfully the Legislature put a stop to this, requiring in the future that some spending measures appear on the regular November ballot.
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But as Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb has urged, fiscal watchdog groups need to make a greater priority of taking on spending measures at the local level.­ As I argued in my book, Leviathan: The Growth of Local Government and the Erosion of Liberty, big government has spread from Washington, D.C. to the suburbs.­ Protecting our rights and our wallets requires citizen vigilance at the local level.

Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Learn More

Clint Bolick: Leviathan: The Growth of Local Government and the Erosion of Liberty
Bob Robb: Arizona's fiscal conservatives should aim lower

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