NTU Chided for Kansas Effort

Published July 1, 2004

Involvement in Kansas’s tax hike debate by the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union (NTU) touched a raw nerve among some observers of the state’s political scene.

In an April 26 column for the Kansas City Star titled “Outsiders, Leave ‘Our’ State Alone,” Mike Hendricks complained about NTU’s participation in the debate, asking “Don’t you love it when the Washington know-it-alls presume to know what’s best for us yokels in the backcountry?”

NTU defended its effort. “We have more than 5,000 living, breathing reasons to oppose higher taxes in Topeka,” said NTU President John Berthoud. “They’re called our members and supporters, who joined NTU precisely for this kind of effective advocacy on their behalf at all levels of government.”

“The education establishment’s minions in the media were too upset with NTU’s message to bother with a reasonable debate over the issue,” asserted Pete Sepp, the group’s vice president for communications. “Instead, they leveled the desperate charge of carpetbagger.

“Such an accusation might better have been leveled at the teacher unions, who mounted a slick pressure campaign on behalf of tax hikes,” said Sepp.

Berthoud observed that NTU routinely opposes tax hikes and supports tax limits for its members across the country. Recent NTU efforts have taken place in Alaska, California, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

“Instead of asking taxpayers to bear higher burdens for bigger government, policymakers should consider innovative solutions to bring the budget back under control,” Berthoud said. “Giving parents the freedom to direct education dollars to schools of their choice, along with a constitutional measure to limit spending growth and require voter approval for higher taxes, would be a winning combination for Kansas.”