Post-Election Shout-Outs: Learning From State-Level Wins

November 12, 2012

Amid all the post-election excitement, we also want to celebrate the amazing work of some of UFE’s Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC) partners and other contributors in the state progressive tax movement.

In New Hampshire, our allies prevented a constitutional amendment to ban the state’s income tax. This is a huge win, and it’s one that can be looked to by other states facing regressive policy initiatives. Much hard work is still to be done in the Granite State, but we’re optimistic. That a broad and diverse coalition was able to come together to stop this measure bodes well for positive change in New Hampshire.

Oregon also enjoyed two exciting victories. TFOC partner organizations Tax Fairness Oregon and Our Oregon worked hard to save the Oregon estate tax from repeal. They won a resounding victory for fairness, and ensured that hundreds of millions of dollars would continue to flow to vital services in the Beaver State. As well, measure 85, which eliminated the Corporate Kicker Tax passed with ease, and will allow for much needed revenue for Oregon’s public education system.

Since 2004, conservative activists, led by the corporate-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have tried with all their might to enact Taxpayer Bills of Rights (TABOR) measures in 30 states. Florida's TABOR, which would have limited public investment and revenue, while requiring a supermajority to override these limits, would have severely hamstrung the state's ability to fund vital services for Floridians. In state after state, voters have turned down this extreme measure, and this year, Floridians joined in that rejection! This was made possible by amazing organizing efforts, combined with voter education and mobilization to stop such a restrictive and economically harmful measure.

Here are a few things we can all take away from these inspiring election day triumphs:

  1. To achieve victory you have to educate, not just by telling the voters why they should be for or against a measure, but by also learning from them how these measure affect them and their communities.
  2. Organizing still works, even on the less-than-sexy matters of fiscal policy and ballot measures. Effective partnership-building contributed greatly to these successes. Don’t go it alone. We’re stronger and louder when we pool our resources and work together.
  3. There is still a tremendous amount of work required to establish fair, progressive tax structures in states across the country. While much of the focus over the next few months will be about federal taxes and budget issues, we can’t forget that the tax fairness movement has to continue at all levels of government.

These statewide election day victories can be models for what’s possible in your state and beyond. We congratulate all of those involved in those efforts and are excited to help keep building momentum for tax fairness and a more just and equitable economy.

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