The 2016 election is already a historic election because of the victory of Republican Donald Trump and the Republican Party remaining in control of both houses of Congress. The Republican Party also did well on the state level, which means that conservative and free-market policies will continue to be advanced at the state legislative level. The Wall Street Journal, in response to the election, stated that “reform-minded Republicans continued their march in the states, and the party controls a record 69 of 99 legislative majorities across the country.”
The Wall Street Journal reported: “Republicans flipped three state legislative chambers, including the Iowa senate and Kentucky house, which turned for the GOP for the first time in almost 100 years…Republicans defended majorities in states such as West Virginia, Michigan, and Maine…Republicans also picked up three governorships: Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont. This brings the tally to 33 GOP governors…The GOP also can claim more state attorneys general than ever 29…All of this is only part of the GOP’s success, which includes 31 lieutenant governors and 31 secretaries of state.”
This means that free-market policies, including tax reform, will have significant priority in many State Legislatures. The upcoming Iowa Legislature will also provide an opportunity for Republican Governor Terry Branstad to work with the new Legislature on meaningful tax reform, spending reform, and advancing more opportunities for school choice in Iowa. As The Wall Street Journal noted, “Congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell may work with Mr. Trump to pass legislation that devolves school funding to the states or block grants Medicaid.”3 If this occurs and President Trump and the Republican Congress shift more power back to the states, we will need Legislators who will be prepared to mold policies in a conservative direction.
Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayers Union, stated in regard to the election: “While stunned pundits chatter on about the winners and losers of the 2016 elections, it’s important to recognize a simple fact: time and again, the most important people in so many of these contests were the nation’s taxpayers. Their voices, which echoed across demographic, geographic, and partisan lines, resulted in remarkable victories on behalf of limited government.”
“Ballot measures proposing steep tax hikes in places ranging from Oregon to Colorado, right to the suburbs of the nation’s capital, went down to resounding defeat,” stated Sepp. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) described the election results as advancing “free market and limited government principles.”
Among other notable measures was Alabama’s decision to include right to work within their state constitution, while the same issue failed in Virginia. This election was also a victory for gun owners and the Second Amendment. A gun control measure went down to defeat in Maine, and the National Rifle Association described the election outcome as “a strong Second Amendment firewall remains intact throughout the country.”
The 2016 election was a victory for taxpayers, but as always with politics, caution must rule the day, as Pete Sepp stated that “none of these developments guarantee that tax reform, spending restraint, or regulatory relief will suddenly become a reality.”
Taxpayers will have to be vigilant in holding their elected officials accountable at all levels of government.