Nine reasons Proposal 1 went down in flames

Some people would vote against a tax increase even to save their lives. But as I explained yesterday, most voters - even in Republican-leaning areas - do understand the need for taxes.

So what doomed Proposal 1? A number of factors:

People just don't trust Lansing politicians. The people who put this on the ballot are not trusted. People are naturally going to be suspicious of anything politicians in Lansing support.

Lawmakers didn't listen to voters. As I'll discuss later, the disconnect between lawmakers in Lansing and ordinary people across the state is bigger than ever. Lawmakers did not consider their constituents when putting together this proposal - in part because many of them haven't taken the time to understand their constituents' needs.

Folks want the rich to pay more. Many people would've been fine with the proposal had Lansing not shifted the tax burden away from corporations and onto individuals over the past four years.

It was a sales tax hike, not an income tax hike. Many people who voted against it did so out of concern about the regressive nature of the sales tax. Because poor people spend a higher share of their income on sales-taxable items, a higher share of their income is also paid to the state via the sales tax.

The legislature didn't do its job. This was a common frustration among pretty much everybody. It made supporters reluctant to vote Yes. For many opponents, it's what clinched their No vote. There were even quite a few people who didn't vote at all because of this. Lawmakers are paid $80,000 per year to tackle tough challenges - why didn't they do that?

It couldn't be explained easily. I know we all wish 30-second sound bites weren't the norm in our politics, but...

Voters didn't see what was in it for them. If you want someone to vote a certain way, you need them to (1) have a reason to go vote and (2) have a reason to vote the way you want them to vote.

It's not enough. $1.2 billion would have stopped the bleeding - but it wouldn't have done much to reverse the long-term problem of poor investment in our roads.

The anti-Prop 1 folks were much more energized. Whatever message people wanted to send, they were ready to send it - and they came out in force. Proponents of the proposal, on the other hand? Even many supporters 'held their nose,' the proposal was bad - but that the alternative would be worse. People who have to hold their nose to vote for something will hardly ever do much to persuade other people to vote.

Despite people's objections to Proposal 1, some things are clear: Voters do not trust the Republican-led government. They oppose cutting education and health in order to fund roads. They support funding our schools and communities. And they are willing to pay taxes - if they feel they're getting a fair shake.

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