The Gaspee Project has created a Taxpayer Protection Pledge for candidates running for General Assembly or Congress, stated simply, “I pledge that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
As of this writing, 20 candidates have taken the pledge, including 15 Republicans, three independents, and two Democrats.
In a related effort, the Gaspee Business Network has posted a Taxpayer Election Pledge for you, the voter:
I support the RaiseSailsNotTaxes.com campaign, and I oppose any tax increases in the 2021 state budget.
As a taxpaying voter in the State of Rhode Island, I pledge to vote against any candidate who supports any tax increases or debt bonds as a means to plug projected deficits in our state budget.
Together, these pledges get at one of the central problems of Rhode Island government’s incentive structure. Those who take money from government have tremendous incentive to tilt the table in their direction, while those who run government have incentive to please them. Even strong reformers, once in office, find it difficult to resist the pressure at least not to displease them too much.
That is because they aren’t provided enough of a sense that there is a constituency for reform. So, gaining office as reformers can feel a bit like charging up a hill with crowd behind you and then not knowing how many are still there once you’ve gotten over the crest.
Something as simple as a pledge can be a valuable statement that you’ve got their backs.