Politicians Will Pay On Election Day

Larry Price
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Wednesday - March 24, 2010
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The state lawmakers are on the verge of trying to craft legislation that will generate a large sum of revenue. It’s the perfect revenue missile for the Democratic Party - the General Excise Tax.

The GET increase could raise an estimated $458 million a year. This would be on top of a Senate bill last year that passed a 1 percentage-point tax increase that raised only $220 million because it was coupled with a series of exemptions and tax breaks.

It’s not often you find two legislative leaders arguing in public about such a crucial issue. State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, chairwoman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee, is on record saying that the governor was certain to veto a tax hike and a legislative override was doubtful. Another Democratic leader, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, responded that people are not sent to the Legislature to get re-elected, that they are not sent to find an easy way out - they are sent to deal with tough issues.

How interesting for the taxpayers to see these two political titans in disagreement on such a sensitive legislative package.

Of course, Kim is 100 percent correct. The governor will veto the measure and the Legislature would have to come back in special session to override her veto. Time has basically run out on the options to pass such legislation into law. But maybe this pause would be a good time to talk about something that may have slipped many a keen mind - a very basic question: Why do people work?

This may come as a shock to some legislators, but we don’t work to pay taxes or participate in hocus-pocus deals with union leaders and re-election campaigns. Most people will quickly answer, “For the money.” They will then look at you with a strange expression, as if to say, “What a dumb question.” Money is a major reason most people work, but it’s not the only reason. Most people who work understand the myriad forces that make up the working environment.

It’s obvious that Kim and Baker don’t. One is realistic about the process of passing such important legislation and the other is pontificating.

In my humble opinion, being a legislative leader is more fun than work, but it doesn’t answer the question of why people work. It may be simplistic, but people work because they want the things money can buy. Working just to be able to pay taxes does nothing to motivate individuals.

The same question can be applied to employers. Some employers believe that people live in order to work, and therefore the person’s main responsibility in life is to fulfill the needs of the company. If you take it to the extreme, employing people is like owning them.

Legislators who don’t take into consideration non-work factors risk losing some of their dedicated voters. There’s a good possibility that this lack of sensitivity toward the common employee may rear its ugly head at the ballot box.

Working hard to buy necessities is one thing; working hard to pay more taxes and take home less pay is another.

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