BY COUNCILORS REINERT AND NESS:
WHEREAS, the taxpayers league and others are endorsing proposals to amend the state constitution to institute tax and expenditure limitations at the state, and potentially local, levels of government that could only be overridden by a vote of the people - an example of these proposals is the "Taxpayers Bill of Rights"; and
WHEREAS, such proposals would tie the hands of state and local leaders in times of crisis and other unpredictable circumstances, putting state and local governments on "auto pilot" and circumventing thoughtful consideration of policy decisions; and
WHEREAS, such proposals would prevent state and local officials from making the tough decisions they were elected to make, passing the responsibility for learning all aspects of often complex issues to citizens who have other jobs and responsibilities; and
WHEREAS, amending the constitution is a virtually irrevocable action and should only be undertaken when legislative remedies have proven inadequate; and
WHEREAS, such proposals are unnecessary - a "solution in search of a problem" - as demonstrated by lawmakers at both state and local levels of government taking action to deal with one of the worst budget crises to hit the state of Minnesota and, by result, Minnesota's cities; and
WHEREAS, this is further demonstrated by the fact that state and local spending as a percentage of personal income has actually declined in recent years, even before the 2003 deficit; and
WHEREAS, regardless of whether TaBOR/TELs are applied just to the state or to local governments as well, these proposals would bring great harm to local communities through continued reductions in state funding, increases in unfunded state mandates, and, potentially, direct tax and expenditure limitations at the local level, which would severely erode decision-making at the local level and the ability to provide the basic services residents and businesses expect and deserve; and
WHEREAS, such proposals would force the state, and potentially cities, to spend valuable time and money asking for permission from the same people who elected them before any action can be taken on important issues, and would also force taxpayers to pay twice for governance - once for elections of their state and local officials, and again for elections to make the decisions those officials should have made; and
WHEREAS, such proposals contradict the fundamental principles upon which our constitution and system of government are based - that representative, not direct, democracy is the most effective form of government as it is most likely to result in good public policy; and
WHEREAS, those states that have instituted proposals similar to the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, such as Colorado, now face severe problems in meeting the basic needs of their citizenry;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the council of the city of Duluth that this council believes that state and local elected officials are elected to do a job - that job is to represent the interests of their constituents, to deal with difficult decisions, to thoughtfully debate and determine the best course of action for the state or the community they serve.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this council opposes limits on state and/or local taxes and expenditures, whether through constitutional amendment or other means, and supports the principle of representative democracy as the best route to sound public policy.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This resolution states the council's position on proposed legislation.