Politico explains why some states can’t raise taxes to pay for education and other public services. Conservative Republicans, obeying their puppet masters at ALEC (funded by the Koch brother, the DeVos family, and major corporations) persuaded voters to change the laws to require a supermajority for any tax increases.

“TEACHER STRIKES HIT STATES WITH STRICT TAX HIKE REQUIREMENTS: In Arizona and Oklahoma – where tens of thousands of teachers have flooded state capitals in recent weeks to demand better pay and hundreds of millions of dollars in education funding – the state constitution makes it hard to raise taxes. Voters in both states approved constitutional amendments in 1992 that require a supermajority – much more than half – of the state legislature to impose new taxes or increase existing ones, as opposed to a simple majority.

“- A major lift in some states: It takes two-thirds of the state legislature in Arizona to impose new taxes or increase taxes. In Oklahoma, it takes 75 percent of the state legislature – one of the strictest requirements in the country. And while supermajorities aren’t the sole driver of education funding woes, critics argue that they lock in tax cuts year after year, making it difficult for states to address education funding shortfalls.

“- “This is a classic example of something that sounds good, but it’s a complete poison pill,” said Nick Johnson, senior vice president for state fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Supermajorities just reduce the power of a state to do what it needs to do.” Johnson said the requirements also allow conservatives to “lock-in” their “advantage into the future.” Florida is considering such a proposal on the ballot this November.

“- CBPP notes that Arizona “cut personal income tax rates by 10 percent in 2006, cut corporate tax rates by 30 percent in 2011, reduced taxes on capital gains, and reduced taxes in other ways over the last couple of decades.” State education funding in Arizona is also down 14 percent since the recession hit, after adjusting for inflation. A coalition of Arizona public school advocates led by a progressive policy group is now pushing for a ballot measure to raise income taxes on wealthy Arizonans to help pay for public education.

“- Conservative organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council have long-pushed for supermajority measures nationwide in an effort to curb “excessive government spending.” Jonathan Williams, ALEC’s vice president for the center for state fiscal reform, argued that supermajorities haven’t prohibited states from taking action when it comes to education funding. He pointed to Oklahoma, where the threat of massive teacher walkouts prompted state lawmakers to pass a rare tax hike in March that would fund a $6,100 pay raise. “When something becomes a necessity, these state lawmakers were able to hit even the most stringent of the supermajority thresholds,” Williams said.”