Today the Wall Street Journal reports (behind the paywall unfortunately) that California's proposed sales tax increase ballot initiative faces an anti-tax mood. In part due to a "growing lack of trust of voters this election season."
Votes for and against tax increases turn on many factors. We've long believed that one amongst those factors is voter trust of the elected officials to whom the money is entrusted. Thus, we saw the jail tax fail in part due to a lack of trust for Hamilton County's elected leadership - Portune, Pepper and Leis specifically.
Currently, there are proposals to increase the sales tax to fund an "arts tax" and to increase property taxes to fill the budget gap in Cincinnati.
If and when these proposals are put to the voters, the very real question of voter trust and confidence in our elected officials will be put to the test. Much like the experts reviewing California's electorate, we sense a strong anti-tax sentiment in Southwest Ohio - fueled no doubt by a lack of trust in the politicians. And for the most part, our elected officials have gotten that dis-trust they old fashioned way: They've earned it!
Unless and until our politicians earn the trust of the voters, any attempted tax increase will be shot down by the voters. That trust can be earned in Cincinnati by (1) discontinuing the streetcar project, (2) discontinuing the City Hall Atrium project, and (3) discontinuing talk of extended council terms. Until these self-aggrandizing plans are put aside, voters will rightly see the elected officials of Cincinnati for what they are: venal, self-serving politicians with little or no regard for the city of Cincinnati and its people, and little or no interest in solving the problems the city faces.
If they were otherwise would Council's agenda really include items like more spending for bad ideas and less citizen oversight of Council?
Absent these simple changes by Cincinnati's leadership, that growing lack of trust will continue to grow exponentially. We truly hope our leaders will soon deserve the public trust.