In a political environment of austerity, anti-big government rhetoric, libertarianism, and Tea Party support, it was only a matter of time before a policy would come up that would question the fundamental funding structure of government.
In North Dakota on Tuesday, voters faced a constitutional amendment that would effectively seek the end to property taxes in the state.
Sure, nobody really likes to pay property taxes, but, in all reality, it really is one of the only two things that is constant in life (death and taxes, right?).
The measure was struck down by North Dakota voters, and rightly so. If the measure had passed, it would have forced state government to figure out how they would fill a massive revenue hole.
Such policy proposals maybe be popular, but they are unproven and dangerous. Libertarian ideals, such as those echoed by "End the Fed" politicians like Ron Paul, strike a chord in voters tired of the failings of government after a major economic crisis. Still, such untested policies really only sound good on paper.
How would they turn out if actually implemented?
I'll leave that as a rhetorical question, as nobody really knows the answer. We'd be in uncharted waters getting rid of such fundamental pillars of the government system.
Eighty two percent of voters voted to keep property tax, while 18% voted to abolish it.
Some North Dakotans pressed for the amendment, arguing that the tax is unpredictable, inconsistent, and counter to the concept of property ownership.
The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and North Dakota's largest public employees’ unions fiercely oppose the idea, arguing that such a ban would upend the structure of government funding.
According to the New York Times, those against the bill argue how, precisely, lawmakers would make up $812 million in annual property tax revenue; what effect the change would have on hundreds of other state laws and regulations that allude to the more than century-old property tax; and what decisions would be left for North Dakota’s cities, counties and other governing boards if, say, they wanted to build a new school, hire more police, open a new park, etc.
Had it passed, the very concept of state government funding would be turned on its head.
Still, such anti-big government measures could be prologue to wider election 2012 battles ahead.