If you listened to the loudest politicians and media outlets, you might believe that Americans want all their taxes to be lower and for government to stop spending so much money. But that’s not the reality. When you explain to voters that more funds are needed for schools, parks, and infrastructure, they tend to agree.
For proof, let’s look at this week’s municipal elections in the St. Louis area. I know, you don’t care much about these elections, and neither do most people, but you’d think that if the opposition was as vocal at the polls as they are elsewhere, none of these tax-and-spend propositions would have a chance. But here are some of the results:
- Voters in both St. Louis city and county voted for a sales tax increase to fund development of the Gateway Arch grounds and other parks in the region;
- In the Tower Grove section of St. Louis city, residents approved taxes for extra police officers;
- Brentwood voted for a property tax increase to give the school district more money;
- Richmond Heights and Grantwood Village passed taxes to help pay for sewer repair;
- Norwood Court approved a new tax to pay for street repairs;
- Cottleville raised its sales tax to pay for storm water control and park improvements;
- St. Charles, University City, Berkeley, Normandy, West Overland, Fort Zumwalt, Washington, and Moline Acres voted in favor of bond issues — mostly for their school districts, police and fire departments, and infrastructure.
Many of these municipalities, like others around the country, are scrambling for dollars to pay for these services because their budgets have been squeezed by both the economy and the impact of lower state and federal taxes, which decreases the funds available on the local level.
While these elections barely draw 20% of eligible voters, the trend is very clear. When people tell pollsters they want smaller government, they don’t mean in their own neighborhoods. They’re willing to pay for good schools, roads, sewers, cops, parks, etc.
Bottom line: it’s not the money, it’s what you’re going to do with it.