The House and Senate have unveiled their respective operating budget proposals that, while increasing state spending, didn’t rely on new taxes. Democratic leaders in the House had hinted at raising the state’s real estate excise tax as part of their efforts to fund affordable housing. That proposal, House Bill 1628, is scheduled for a vote in committee. Warnick said, “You do not fix our state’s affordable housing crisis by taxing housing.”
Now, at the 11th hour, Senate Democrats have introduced a property-tax measure that would do away with the 1% cap on property tax growth, allowing a threefold increase at the state and local levels.
Senate Bill 5770, co-sponsored by 20 Senate Democrats, would reverse voter-approved Initiative 747 from 2001 that placed a 1% cap on property tax increases and would raise the limit to 3% per year for both state and local property taxes without voter approval. It also narrowly misses constitutional requirements of a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to introduce bills during the last 10 days of the session.
State Sen. Judy Warnick, who serves on the Senate’s budget committee, Ways and Means, says of the plan:
“I’m frankly shocked and disappointed that the Democratic majority has decided to even introduce this proposal. Families are already struggling with record inflation and shrinking household budgets and now is not the time to expose them to even more financial burdens.
“This will be the third time this session the majority has deliberately ignored the will of the voters and reversed voter-approved initiatives without their input. It’s wrong. The approach and timing are concerning and a bit unscrupulous. The state does not need the money, working families do. While the intent of the tax bill is to fund special education, the reality is that budget writers should make that a priority rather than spending needlessly on growing state government at the expense of our children.
“Tying education funding to tax increases is not what families in our state need to ensure their children can learn. This is reminiscent of the recent imposition of the capital gains income tax. While advocates of more taxes complain about how regressive our system is, they’ve done nothing to fix it. Now, they’re creating a false choice between education funding and unsustainable tax increases.”