November 5, 2018
Other Voices

Reject the amendments

Chris Powell

Two state constitutional amendments on Nov. 6's election ballot should be rejected.

One, purporting to establish a "lockbox" for money collected by state government in the name of transportation, is as phony as the "spending cap" amendment offered to voters in 1992 as an apology for the income tax imposed the previous year.

To become effective the "spending cap" amendment needed implementing legislation, but the General Assembly let decades go by before enacting any.

The loophole in the "lockbox" amendment is that it would allow state government to withhold transportation revenue from deposit in transportation accounts, and the "lock" would not work until the revenue was actually deposited in the "box."

Besides, transportation money should be subject to diversion in emergencies, as all state government money should be. The problem is that governors and legislators have defined emergency too broadly.

The second amendment, requiring public hearings for any disposal of public land, is too trivial for the Constitution. Its objective could be achieved by ordinary legislation.

The bigger problem with the two amendments is that they pretend that there is some substitute for the ordinary integrity and conscientiousness of legislators. There isn't.

Chris Powell is an opinion writer/columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

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