But Amherst voters were against it by a 3 to 1 margin.
I wonder what would have happened if the 1981 Select Board had asked those same voters to approve a billion dollar override. That would have been an effective way of vetoing Prop 2½. A billion dollar override would mean the Select Board and Town Meeting would have to come up with budgets the way they did before-- decide how much money is needed, how much people were willing to pay, and then convincing a majority of Town Meeting that the budgets are justified.
For true public goods, that's actually a reasonably good process. But Prop 2½ screwed it up.
I wrote about one study that showed some unintended consequences a couple of years ago:
"It takes time for various levels of government to institute and implement changes, but following a brief lag, California and Massachusetts began to make up those lost revenues, largely through rapidly growing non-tax fees and charges. During a period of "tax revolt," these revenue sources were both less constrained and less visible to voters than taxes."I think another unintended consequence was the centralization of funding at the State level. Our schools and Towns are increasingly reliant on money from the State instead of local property taxes, and I think Amherst is worse off because of it.
From: A tale of two tax jurisdictions: the surprising effects of California's Proposition 13 and Massachusetts' Proposition 2 ½ - property tax
Maybe that's OK-- maybe Holyoke is much better off because more education funding is funneling through the State education bureaucracy and being spread around from rich places like Amherst to poorer places in the state. Ummm, no, after 30 years: Holyoke, Springfield, ranked as 2 lowest performing school districts in Mass. (September 14, 2009)
So: why not a billion dollar override? I'm only half serious, although the more I think about it the more the idea appeals to me. Either we trust the Select Board, School Committee, and Town Meeting to be fiscally responsible... or we're screwed, because even with Prop 2½ they could decide to take all our property taxes and build a monorail to Belchertown.