The Power to Destroy: ‘Baptists’ and Bootleggers
Voters go on free money bond frenzy; approval of government land buy-ups shows no sign of stopping
While taxpayer groups for years have fought to keep taxes from spiraling into the stratosphere and property-rights advocates have waged desperate efforts to block legislation that increases government land-ownership, Americans, within the privacy of the voting booth, have been quietly thwarting such efforts by giving thumbs-up to an ever-increasing public debt. This instant cash has gone not only for infrastructure, but for land purchases by various jurisdictions, allowing public agencies to engage in all-out buying sprees of privately owned properties, moving these off the tax rolls and into government hands.
Since 1998, voters across the country have authorized state and local governments to borrow a whopping $25 billion solely for land acquisition: parks, greenways, wildlife corridors, nature preserves, buffer zones along creeks and other open space. Final figures of last year’s election results indicate the trend shows no sign of slackening. On Nov. 5, voters in 95 communities in 28 states approved ballot measures authorizing approximately $2.9 billion in funding to acquire and restore land for parks and open space, according to a recently released report by the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance, an umbrella support group for land conservancies.