ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Voters erect bulwarks against new taxes


Texas has become one of America’s fastest-growing states, thanks in part to its lack of a state income tax. So it was encouraging recently when Lone Star State voters made it even more difficult to impose such a tax.

The Texas constitution since 1993 has barred the state legislature from imposing an income tax without the approval of voters in a statewide referendum. But with progressives working hard to turn Texas into another California, voters decided to raise the bar. Proposition 4 changes the state constitution to require income-tax legislation to win two-thirds support in both legislative chambers and majority approval in a referendum. It passed with 74% of the vote.

Nine states have no personal income tax, and Texas is the latest to protect a political model that leads to higher GDP growth, employment and wages. Tennessee voters in 2014 backed 2-to-1 a constitutional amendment banning its legislature from introducing taxes on payroll or earned personal income. Last year, a super-majority of Florida voters supported a constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature to raise current taxes or enact new ones.

These measures are important obstacles to future narrow majorities that might seek to impose an income tax. They’re all the more important as the success of low-tax states attracts migrants who often carry the bad political habits of their former homes.

The citizens of California, New York, Connecticut and other states have learned the hard way that once an income tax is imposed, spending balloons and the march to ever-higher taxes is on. Democrats in Illinois, prodded by public unions, are now trying to rewrite their state constitution to kill its requirement for a flat income tax. Taxpayers need every procedural fortification they can get from the relentless forces of tax and spend.