The Taxpayer Protection Amendment: Good For Taxpayers, Good For Tax Policy
Sen. Jason Rapert’s Taxpayers’ Protection Amendment (SJR 4) is scheduled for hearing today in the Senate Committee on State Agencies. If enacted, it would require a "supermajority" vote of 75% from both houses of the legislature in order to raise taxes in Arkansas. Among the many virtues of this proposed constitutional amendment is that it would make it more difficult for the Arkansas General Assembly to increase our tax burden. But that is far from the only good consequence of a supermajority requirement. In fact, a Taxpayer Protection Amendment would have many good consequences – not just for taxpayers, but for the budget process, legislators, and the general public.
A taxpayer protection amendment would create better tax policy.
Tax policy choices by Arkansas lawmakers are currently distorted, because a majority vote is required to raise some kinds of taxes and a supermajority vote of 75% is required for others. Understandably and predictably, tax policy choices in the Arkansas legislature are frequently affected by the fact that it is easier to raise some kinds of taxes than others. In particular, hiking sales taxes only requires a majority vote. Different kinds of taxes have different economic effects; if we require the same rules for all tax increases, this will squeeze a lot of politics out of the Arkansas tax policy process, making it easier to write effective tax policy.