A recent batch of bond elections for schools, library, and a community college have caused the old “super majority” issue to once again raise its ugly head. MOST of the recent bonds in the state have passed the 2/3 super majority.
Those in FAVOR of the bonds–not unfairly labeled as “liberals”–see the 67% majority as an unfair hurdle to approving long term public debt. Those AGAINST–reasonably labeled as “conservatives”–like the idea they get to cancel two votes with each of their votes.
Then there are those who don’t like the formula at all. They think the two-thirds super majority should come from two-thirds of the REGISTERED VOTERS–not just two thirds of those who choose to vote.
Some reasoned thoughts from the GUARDIAN:
The super majority (2/3 approval of those who vote) is a fair system. It serves as a safeguard against a very slim majority of voters imposing taxes on the VAST MAJORITY of property owners, many of whom are precluded from voting.
In Ada County about HALF of the property valuation in the county has no vote because it is COMMERCIAL property or owned by absentee landlords. However, the rest of us can vote to impose taxes on all the retail outlets, warehouses, production facilities, etc. Micron has a tax cap, thanks to the legislature. The super majority is a fair safeguard.
In McCall, nearly 75% of the property tax comes from “recreation land” owned by nonresidents. That number probably holds true for all of Valley County as well. Locals can impose taxes on all the vacationers who visit on weekends, but never use the schools and local government facilities often funded by property tax bonds. The super majority is a fair safeguard.
The “fair” alternative would be to allow only property owners–resident and nonresident alike–to vote on property tax issues. Our U.S. supreme court and democratic system won’t allow that feudal process. The super majority is a fair safeguard.
With few exceptions, the percentage need to pass or repeal something is keyed to the number of people who vote in an election–not the number of registered voters. However, the politicos have made it nearly impossible to recall an incumbent by using the “registered voter” number as a standard for recall elections and petitions. “Fair” seems to be a matter of perspective.
For instance. How would proponents feel about a “simple majority” empowered to DISSOLVE a community college or repeal a school property tax bond?
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