September 30: Voice of The (Anchorage) Times on the proposed tax cap:

Posted: Monday, October 02, 2000

All things considered, the prospect is that people in Anchorage -- and maybe all of Alaska -- are too content to put a 10-mill cap on property taxes.

To say that is not an endorsement either for or against the proposition that dominates the local scene as the Nov. 7 election nears. Rather, cast it as something of an editorial prediction that the tax cap will fail.

We say that knowing that a lot of people are upset about the perception that government -- all government, state and local and federal -- simply keeps growing, out of control and at increasing levels of costs to the average person.

It comes down to a deep sense that there are too many services people don't really need, too much government interference in every aspect of life, too many regulations, too many laws, too many layers of people occupying ever bigger amounts of office space, doing all too little good.

As the number of government employees increase, there are more and more built-in votes to protect the jobs and the rich benefits that go with them -- long vacations, plush health coverage, virtual tenure at every level.

That sort of thing, you've got to admit, is what sticks in the craw of many of those who favor a tax cap as a means of curbing government growth and government spending.

But is that feeling broad enough to push this proposition over the top in November? Not if you consider other factors in all of this.

For one thing, more and more as election day nears, the anti-tax cap forces will send out alarms about what the tax cap will mean: a sharp curtailment in all kinds of services that people have come to appreciate. There will be less money for the arts and less money for the flowers. There will be less money for parks and recreation. There will be less money for street sweeping in the spring and snow plowing in the winter. There will be fewer fire department ambulances on duty. There will be a lot of people laid off, out of work. There will be less recruitment of talented people to work for the city. Education will suffer. Bus transportation for the elderly and the needy will be cut. And on and on and on.

And as the campaign builds, people will remind themselves -- we think, at least -- that they really are comfortable with all the services they now receive. They'd like government cut, sure. But they like what they have, they're used to paying for it, and what's the big deal, anyway?

When you put the comfort factor together with the fear factor, the odds mount against the likelihood that this tax cap will be approved.

We could be wrong. We could be wrong, big time.

But we wouldn't bet on it. Wouldn't bet either way, as a matter of fact.


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