Trigger cuts are on their way to becoming a staple of budgets.
So why not trigger taxes?
Republicans have opened the door to such a discussion with their arguments against Gov. Brown’s initiative to hike income and sales taxes for five years. The GOP talking point is that tax revenues are already coming back and the tax hikes are unnecessary.
That’s an opportunity for Brown and the Democrats, if they seize it. “Fine,” they should say. “If you’re so confident that revenues will cover the budget without tax hikes, let’s put that in the budget.”
If revenues fail to reach a certain target, tax increases would automatically be triggered.
Of course, Republicans wouldn’t go for this, because if you’re a Republican and you vote for anything that looks remotely like a tax increase, there’s a danger you may spontaneously combust.
But at the very least, Brown and the Democrats could score a couple of political points, beat back a talking point, and show just how unserious Republicans have been on the issue.
Such a move would also obscure how unserious Brown and the Democrats are about getting a handle on the budget. They want to raise taxes, but only temporarily. They want to cut, but through triggers that are a way of hiding persistent deficits. And they’re not taking on the broader budget and governance reform necessary to get out of this budget death spiral.
But if the state is going to have a dishonest conversation about triggers, such a conversation shouldn’t be one-sided. It should include trigger taxes as well as trigger cuts.