News Still A Democratic Priority?
posted by March 12 at 15:15 PMon
I complained that handing Eyman a victory (especially when his 15 minutes have been over for about 20) seems like a dumb priority for this year’s whopping Democratic majority.
Certainly, property tax reform itself is a good idea (people on fixed incomes, for example, shouldn’t get hit with unwieldy property tax increases. Nor should poorer people be paying a greater percentage of their incomes in property taxes than rich people).
But locking in a system that jeopardizes local services and is failing to address people’s complaints anyway (747 has been in play since 2002) is an odd move for the Democratic majority.
So, I was pleased when the bills codifying 747 didn’t make it out of committee before the Feb. 28 and March 5 cutoffs.
However, word is: the the House Democrats still want to pass the Eyman law and they’re meeting in caucus this week to move it out—which they’re allowed to do with “dead” bills if they believe the bill is “essential to the budget.” Property taxes meet that test.
If Democrats are going to resurrect property tax relief, they shouldn’t rubber-stamp Eyman’s pseudo-populist fix. They should get real about addressing the system.
The Budget and Policy Center is talking about a “circuit breaker” idea that would target property tax fixes. The idea works like this: When property tax bills reach a certain percentage of a homeowner’s income, they get a tax credit. The proposal developed by the Budget and Policy Center is, they claim, revenue neutral and would give the poorest 20% of homeowners a 14.9% tax cut; the next 20% would get about a 12% cut; the middle 20% would get a 1.9% cut; and the top 40% would see a 2% increase.
That’d be a nice change from the regressive setup of the current system: According to the Budget and Policy Center report, the poorest homeowners pay 6% of their income in property taxes while the richest bracket pays 2.8 %.
There’s more hope of moving the circuit breaker idea on the Senate side where the property tax relief bill is already more progressive than the House’s lazy idea of enshrining Eyman’s 747 into law.
The Senate’s idea would exempt the first $50,000 of a homeowner’s property value. Activists want to broaden that idea to include the circuit breaker fix.