Weather Forecast


Editorial: This idea is a bad one: Just legislate

Minnesota legislators should learn to do their jobs and not take the easy way out with constitutional amendments, such as a supermajority requirement of a three-fifth majority for tax increases.

The supermajority amendment is simply a bad idea and demonstrates that today's legislators are becoming lazy, like taking a week off only a week after the 2012 session started. They not willing to utilize the legislative judgment they were elected for and sent to St. Paul to exercise.

Is it becoming the trend for the Legislature not to legislate?

A group of legislators, led by majority Republicans, are seeking to put a supermajority constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Since 1858, Minnesota has been a state where the majority rules and the rights of the minority are protected. If a supermajority amendment is placed on the ballot and approved by the voters, the Legislature and Minnesotans could be virtually held hostage by a legislative minority.

The primary reason "supermajority" amendment supporters want such an amendment is the claim that it will keep taxes low, but that is a false assumption.

One needs look no further than Arizona, Nevada and California, who have all passed such an ill-advised amendment. Last year Arizona couldn't get the necessary votes to approve needed tax increases and was forced to use gimmicks, such as selling state buildings, to balance its budget. In Nevada, the state's debt rating was downgraded primarily due to its supermajority amendment, which in turn increased borrowing costs.

California's famed Proposition 13 requires a supermajority to approve any tax increase and the state has been locked in budget problems for a decade or more. In addition, California's own initiative process often brings initiatives forward that conflict with one another.

A supermajority amendment often just forces a Legislature to not make decisions and, in turn, forced local governments to increase property taxes in order to provide basic functions, like education, law enforcement and fire protection. California is a prime example of a failed state government that is basically ham strung.

None of the 16 states that have approved a supermajority amendment are a good example for Minnesota. There is no specific proof that the supermajority requirement in those states has improved economic growth or created stronger fiscal climates.

Even the Minnesota Taxpayers Association believes a supermajority is a bad idea that constrains government.

In reality, a supermajority amendment often just constrains legislative options, requires temporary budget solutions, creates more frequent legislative stalemates and brings higher borrowing costs for the state.

Do legislator supporters of a supermajority amendment so distrust their own judgment that they don't even try to make a tax decision.

The Legislature should reject the supermajority amendment and just do the job they were sent to do -- simply legislate.