Pledge of ‘no taxes’ haunting legislators

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

When politicians cater to special interest groups, even well-intentioned efforts can backfire.

Since 1986, an advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, has asked politicians and candidates to sign its Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The contract commits the signer to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

In turn, Americans for Tax Reform then recommends that voters select the signees when going to the polls.

For the 2014 primary, Americans for Tax Reform supported state Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, whose District 53 includes southern Madison County. Americans for Tax Reform also supported P. Eric Turner, whose district took in a slice of northwestern Madison County.

But Turner resigned his seat following an ethics investigation.

Nevertheless, Indiana politicians may be regretting that pledge. As should many Hoosiers.

To understand the problem, consider taking a trip north on Interstate 65.

The interstate was closed near Lafayette because a bridge, which carries 20,000 vehicles a day, was deemed structurally deficient.

Northbound drivers couldn’t use the highway between Lebanon and Lafayette. The detour took drivers along U.S. 52, west of Lafayette. Some frustrated Chicago-bound drivers went so far as to take I-74 into Illinois and head north on I-57.

Fixing the bridge requires funds. As does numerous infrastructure projects; the state says 350 bridges could use repairs.

But what about that pledge? It’s put the politicians in a tight spot.

But politicians are known to break promises. The no-tax pledge should be broken. Indiana’s roads must be fixed.

And in this case, Indiana may well be losing gas tax revenue to Illinois as drivers seek alternate routes.

Americans for Tax Reform is based in Washington, D.C. It was founded by Grover Norquist, who was born in Massachusetts.

Signing the pledge speaks well of intentions. We want our elected officials to be financially accountable. But Indiana legislators should not be obligated to hold to a pledge coming from out of state.

All our legislators have to do is drive north on I-65 from Indianapolis. They’ll pledge to never sign a no-tax pledge again.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.