Republican Anti-Reformers

The Wall Street Journal

By ALLYSIA FINLEY

 

According to the prevailing liberal narrative, the tea party has co-opted the Republican party and is driving radical changes in state policy. The real story this year, however, is how Republicans are killing tea party-backed reforms.

Take Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who on Monday backed off his plan to phase out the state income tax. To replace the lost revenues, he had proposed raising the sales tax to 5.88% from 4% and broadening the base to include more services and products. Low-income filers and retirees would also have received rebates to ensure that taxes would decrease across the income spectrum.

Mr. Jindal shelved the tax reform after some businesses complained that their taxes would increase. Not incidentally, the governor’s approval rating has fallen by double digits since he pitched the reform earlier this year. According to a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey last week, nearly two-thirds of Bayou State voters opposed his plan.

Meanwhile, Republican legislators in Indiana have cashiered Gov. Mike Pence’s plan to cut the state’s income tax by $500 million to 3.06% from 3.4%. They prefer a $150 million tax cut paired with increased spending on transportation.

Senate Republicans in Kansas last month tabled Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to give new workers 401(k)-style accounts. To shore up the insolvent pension system, Republican legislators want to borrow from capital markets at historically low rates and invest the bond proceeds in higher-yielding equities.

Pennsylvania’s GOP legislature is also hemming and hawing over Gov. Tom Corbett’s pension reforms, which would shift new employees to defined contribution plans and reduce existing workers’ future benefit accruals. Many of these squishy Republican legislators helped block modest school voucher legislation in 2011.

Speaking of which: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam just walked away from school voucher legislation that he once supported after some Republican legislators pushed for more significant reforms. In Wisconsin, Republican senators have balked at Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to expand his state’s voucher program to help more kids from failing schools.

With Republican anti-reformers like these, unions don’t need Democrats.

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