Two Victories for Taxpayers

Yesterday, taxpayers celebrated two big victories at the ballot box.

Nevada voters removed a controversial state supreme court justice, Nancy Becker, who joined in the much-reviled Guinn v. Legislature decision. That ruling held that Nevada lawmakers could ignore a state constitutional requirement for a two-thirds majority and hike taxes by a simple majority vote. (The court felt that increasing taxes would make it easier to increase funding of the state’s educational system, although additional funds for education could have been freed up by cutting other state spending). As a result of the ruling, the state legislature raised taxes by $833 million.

Becker was defeated by a trial judge, Nancy Saitta, who was critical of that ruling. Saitta also criticized Becker for ruling that the City of Las Vegas could seize the Pappas family’s property and
give it to gambling moguls to use as a parking garage.

Becker’s defeat is a victory for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a consistent voice for Nevada’s taxpayers, which educated the public about Becker’s role in imposing tax increases on the public.

In Michigan, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2, a measure to end race and gender-based affirmative action in state college admissions, public employment, and government contracts. Proposal 2 will save taxpayers money by ensuring that municipal contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, rather than based on affirmative action.

It will also end the University of Michigan’s longstanding practice of discriminating against whites and Asians in admissions. Proposal 2 is modeled on California’s Proposition 209, an anti-affirmative action initiative passed by California voters in 1996.

The passage of Proposal 2 is striking, because it was opposed by all the political elites. Both gubernatorial candidates opposed it. One left-wing minister called it the work of the “devil,” while a corporate lobbyist claimed it would mean “lights out” in Michigan.

Proposal 2’s principal spokeswoman, Jennifer Gratz, was subjected to an endless campaign of personal vilification in Detroit’s major newspapers, the Free Press and the Detroit News, which repeatedly denounced Proposal 2. A radical militant group, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), physically menaced supporters of Proposal 2 and disrupted meetings designed to put Proposal 2 on the ballot.

The passage of Proposal 2 is a win for state taxpayers and a defeat for the politics of intimidation and fear.