Republicans Move to Cut State Fees Nationwide

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 12:18 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Republicans across the country are urging governors and lawmakers to take the same approach to local and state fees that they do to taxes — cut, cut, cut.
And in some states elected officials are doing just that, according to a report Tuesday by, despite the fact that increased fees and licensing costs have helped make up for some lost revenues in the down economy.
“A backlash against fee increases is underway, however, as Republicans at the state level turn tea party enthusiasm against the rising cost of government transactions,” Stateline reported. “In New Hampshire, Republicans succeeded in rolling back fees that went up during the recession.  
“Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, wants to do the same, at least for certain vehicle-related fees,” Stateline said. “Meanwhile, a wider effort from California to West Virginia is aimed at changing both language and legalities so that ‘fees’ and ‘taxes’ are treated as one and the same.”
The Stateline report noted that fees — for such things as hunting and fishing, marriage licenses, and vehicle registrations — represent only a small part of state revenues overall.
But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it was enough in 2010 to account for $50 billion or, as Stateline noted, “about 7 percent of states’ total tax collections.”
People understand the budget problems facing governments at all levels, but Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told Stateline there’s still “a general frustration of being nickel-and-dimed to death.”
That’s one reason, Vosburgh told Stateline, that Californians approved Proposition 26 last year, which mandates that any fee or license increase by approved by a two-thirds majority of the state legislature — the same legislative standard for a tax hike.

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