National taxpayers willing to put up or shut up, sometimes

Thursday, November 15, 2018

It would be interesting to see how Medicaid expansion would have fared in Nebraska had it been worded differently.

As it was, the initiative passed on the promise that it would extend medical coverage to more Nebraskans, boost the economy and improve the viability of smaller hospitals.

If it were couched in language that it might cut education and services for other needy Nebraskans, as opponents warned, it might not have done that well at the ballot box.

Gov. Pete Ricketts and supporters vow that implementing the Obamacare expansion in response to the voters’ wishes will be done within the constraints of the current budget — no new taxes, in the words of former President George H.W. Bush.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Popular opinion that people rarely vote to raise their own taxes is largely accurate, but that doesn’t mean they can’t sometimes be convinced.

According to the Tax Foundation, voters in a number of states had a chance to change tax policy.

Colorado voters failed to raise the income tax and make it progressive, replacing the current flat tax rate.

Maine failed by a wide margin to raise the income tax for high earners, and North Carolina voted to lower the maximum state income tax rate from 10 percent to 7 percent.

As for sales tax measures, Arizona voted to ban all sales taxes on services, Colorado failed to increase the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for transportation, Georgia authorized a school district sales tax by a wide margin, Oregon failed to ban taxes on groceries, but Washington did ban new local taxes on groceries.

Louisiana voted to require that property tax reappraisals which increase value by more than 50 percent be phased in over four years.

Other measures saw Washington fail to impose a carbon tax, Montana failed to impose a $2 cigarette tax increase to fund Medicaid expansion, South Dakota failed to boost tax on smokes from $1 to $2.53 a pack, and Florida passed a measure that requires new taxes to be approved by two-thirds of each Legislative chamber.

The Nebraska Legislature is now facing the daunting task of implementing Medicaid expansion while continuing to receive pressure to deliver property tax relief.

It will be interesting to see the role sales taxes, cigarette taxes or other types of revenue play in the effort.

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