Grover Norquist, anti-tax-hike guru, opposes pot tax Proposition AA
Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is among the most powerful figures in conservative politics thanks to his "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" -- a promise to oppose tax-rate hikes for individuals or businesses that 41 U.S. Senators and 238 U.S. Representatives have signed.
In recent weeks, Norquist made news by saying a vote for pot taxes wouldn't necessarily violate the pledge. But that doesn't mean he's in favor of Colorado's Proposition AA. Today, he confirms that he opposes it.
"If I was a citizen of Colorado, I would vote against proposition AA, as a 25 percent tax is too high," Norquist writes in an e-mail to Westword this morning. "Send this back to the state legislature."
The spur for this statement was an October 31 Westword post headlined "Marijuana: Yes on Proposition AA tax proposal winning handily in polls." In the item, Joe Megyesy, spokesman for the organization backing Prop AA, mentioned Norquist, as noted in the following paragraph:
He adds that national activist Grover Norquist's recent statement that voting to raise taxes on pot wouldn't violate a no-tax pledge, since prohibition is the ultimate tax, could reassure some conservative voters who are on the fence.The link above connects to a Forbes article, which references comments Norquist made to the National Journal. Here's an excerpt:
"When you legalize something and more people do more of it and the government gets more revenue because there's more of it...that's not a tax increase," he explains. "The tax goes from 100 percent, meaning it's illegal, to whatever the tax is."The last part of the statement certainly implies that Norquist specifically approves of Proposition AA -- unlike Amendment 66, the Colorado education proposal that he's directly attacked in tweets like this one from yesterday:
At 25 percent on three levels of sales (on top of the state's standard sales tax of 8.75 percent), Colorado's marijuana tax is significantly higher than its levy on alcohol, but it's all the "same zone," says Norquist.
ATR urges Colorado voters to reject Amendment 66, the massive 27% income tax hike on the ballot tomorrow: http://t.co/PgYP42ou4E— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) November 5, 2013
Nonetheless, Larisa Bolivar, executive director of the No on Proposition AA campaign, decided to challenge Norquist on his reported stance. We've included her entire note to him below, but at one point, she wrote, "Since you are who I and a lot of Republicans
go to for tax related issues because your fame connotes authority on the issue, I am tremendously disappointed by your decision to support the highest tax on a retail item in Colorado history based on 'Reefer Madness.'"
A short time later, Norquist replied to Bolivar with this note: "I have certainly not endorsed any tax hike on marijuana. I answered the question --does it violate the pledge to legalize marijuana and have an excise tax. I sent out a tweet reiterating this. I would recommend no tax higher than the sales tax of the state."
A photo from Larisa Bolivar's Facebook page.
Continue for more about Grover Norquist's position on Proposition AA.