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May 08, 2014 2:27 PM Kansas Envy

By Ed Kilgore

So the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature overturned Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a tax cut measure that GOPers justified as necessary to keep up—or more accurately keep down—with Kansas, where the fiscal situation is deteriorating rapidly.

Rachel Maddow had a big feature on this development last night, emphasizing its connection to Missouri’s elimination of limits on campaign contributions.

If you don’t want to watch Rachel’s entire segment, or want more background, check out the discussion at Show Me Progress by our friend Blue Girl. An excerpt:

Lord knows, I appreciate the attention someone of Rachel Maddow’s caliber brings to what happened here on Tuesday, but two things happened before the removal of all campaign contribution limits in 2008, and one thing is for sure….the bastards play a looonnnggg game.
The first thing that happened was the Hancock Amendment [an early version of the TABOR-style rebate-“excess”-taxes system]. On November 4, 1980, one month and one day before my 18th birthday, the day Missouri voted for Ronald Reagan for President, I fell into mourning and wore black for a month - not because Reagan won, but because the Hancock Amendment passed with 55% of the vote, and I knew what that meant…henceforth, all taxes would be raised via sales and property tax levies, and those who had the most would pay the least. I knew that although I was a tenth-generation Missourian, my future children probably wouldn’t be; that trying to start an adult life on an uneven footing with those who had a head start was going to be a mugs game.
The second thing that happened took place in 1992, when we were billeted elsewhere. Missouri voters were gulled, by a 3:1 margin, to enact term limits for state legislators…funny how that notion never came up or got discussed in Kansas or other republican-controlled states, isn’t it? Republicans couldn’t win fair-and-square, so they changed the rules. The term limits that were voted for in 1992 went into effect in 2000, and comity went out the window. Term limits going into effect was the thing that happened “ten or so years ago” that turned Missouri from a bellwether to a southern-style conservative state.
At first, the effect of term limits was muted, because the institutional memory still existed with the staffers. Now the staffers are gone, the legislators only have eight years in a chamber (and just ask any legislator - that’s about how long it takes to figure out how the place works) and all the institutional memory that still exists rests with lobbyists, and it’s Katy-bar-the-door.
That is what led to the 2008 removal of campaign contribution limits, and created the perfect storm that sank our ship of state on Tuesday
.

Sometimes it takes destructive public policy measures a long time to marinate in their toxic juices, even if the ultimate product is generated by a panicky desire to follow the road to the bottom.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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