Mississippi taxpayers celebrated in early November at the election of Republican Haley Barbour as the state’s next governor. During his campaign, Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).
The pledge commits a public official to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.” ATR said Barbour’s opponent, incumbent Ronnie Musgrove (D), refused to sign the pledge.
“Haley Barbour’s signature on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge shows to the voters of Mississippi that he is committed to Mississippi’s hard-working families,” said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, president of ATR. “He knows the people have to live within their budgets, and government should do the same. The last thing Mississippians need is to have Jackson take more of their paychecks to fund more spending.”
Two states to the north, Kentucky also elected a Republican governor on November 4–for the first time since 1967–choosing Congressman Ernie Fletcher, who pledged to “clean up state government and balance the state budget without raising taxes or cutting services.”
Fletcher defeated Attorney General Ben Chandler, carrying every part of the state except for the Democratic strongholds of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky.
Fletcher and Barbour won their races by 55-45 and 53-45 percent margins, respectively.
“The 2003 elections were elections overwhelmingly dominated by the tax issue, and taxpayers all across the country can breathe a little easier,” said Norquist. “The sentiment that ‘enough is enough’ where taxes are concerned has taken a firm hold at both the state and federal levels.”
President George W. Bush, 42 U.S. Senators, 217 Congressmen, 10 governors (including Barbour and Fletcher), and more than 1,200 state legislators have signed ATR’s pledge.
“Yet again, the tax issue can turn an election,” said Norquist. “We already saw it in the humiliation of Bob Riley (R) in Alabama in September, and the rejection of Gray Davis for Arnold Schwarzenegger in October. Neither Riley or Davis are pledge signers. Now Haley Barbour and Ernie Fletcher are continuing the signer trend. Perhaps the message has finally reached state houses that a governor cannot raise taxes and have any political future.”
John Skorburg is managing editor of Budget & Tax News. His email address is [email protected].