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Allen TABOR Icet (R-Wildwood) chairs the House Budget Committee. How like the Republicans to put someone who hates spending in charge of spending. In 2006, Icet sponsored Missouri’s version of the ruinous constitutional amendment that Colorado adopted in 1993. Icet’s proposal failed to make it through the legislature (and failed as an initiative petition as well that year). Since he couldn’t get a bad bill through in ’06 or ’07, he naturally decided to try getting a worse bill through this year. No go. The House members always go for his foolishness, but saner heads have prevailed in the Senate–where odious bills often go to die.

TABOR ruins a state government’s finances because it limits the state’s income to the inflation rate, which generally runs 2 1/2 to 3 percent. Many years, the income of residents and businesses grows more than that, at, say, 5 percent. If a state’s income can’t keep up with the overall growth in income, then services suffer.

A Fact Sheet from the Missouri Budget Project puts “services suffer” in more concrete terms. Look at how, in education alone, Colorado plummeted:

  • Average teacher salaries dropped from 30th in the nation in 1992 (before TABOR) to 50th by 2001.
  • Higher education funding per resident student dropped by 31 percent.
  • Tuition at public universities increased 21 percent between 2002 and 2005 to offset the loss of state aid.

But the man who chairs our House Budget Committee doesn’t think such cuts to services would be adequate. He not only wants to borrow Colorado’s bad idea, he wants to take it one ruinous step further, unsatisfied unless Missouri is dead last.

The bill Icet proposed this year would not only limit the growth of state income to the rate of inflation but would also mandate that if the state had a lower tax rate this year than last year, for example, we could never return to last year’s rate. It’s as if a family got its annual wage slashed by $5,000 one year, and, worse yet, knew that the wage earner was never again going to get a raise.

Just put a “y” in place of the “t” in Icet’s name and you’ve got him pegged. Him and most of the Republican House members.

Fortunately, the coalition that would oppose a TABOR amendment on the ballot is exceptionally strong and varied, even to the point of including the K.C. Chamber of Commerce–no hotbed of liberalism.

What puzzles me about Icet is that he’s the chair of the House Budget Committee, so it’s not like he doesn’t know about the budget shortfalls we face every year–and the more severe ones coming soon to a municipality near you. Yet he wants to hobble the state further.

Why? Is it just that he doesn’t give a rip about anyone who isn’t already wealthy? He seems not just contemptuous of the poor–take a guess at how he voted on the Medicaid cuts–but of anyone who couldn’t be bothered to get a Ph.D. in chemistry and earn a bundle working for Monsanto.

It’s unfair, though, to single out Ebenezer Allen Icet. Considering his TABOR tunnel vision, you could say he’s more passionately stingy than his fellow Republicans–but not by much. They all appear to believe in potholed highways, 35 students to a class, and university tuition out of reach of most families.