State lawmakers who recently voted for the biggest tax increase in state history — and policies that encouraged higher property taxes — claim they’re concerned about taxpayers.
That’s the spin, but Kansans shouldn’t be fooled.
In the last legislative session, ultraconservatives aligned with Gov. Sam Brownback quietly endorsed requiring local governments to gain voter approval for proposed property-tax increases exceeding the rate of inflation.
With the so-called property-tax lid, city and county governments would have to hold special elections at a cost to taxpayers — and hope they gain approval — to ensure funding for emergency services and other day-to-day operations.
Another in a series of bad ideas from the corporate interest-driven American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the property-tax lid was set to begin in 2018. Brownback allies now want it effective July 1.
Instead, it should be repealed.
Among advocates of the lid, a Realtors group believes it would lessen property-tax burdens, but dismisses its potential to curb growth.
Recent housing and retail developments made Garden City a more appealing place to live. Growth fueled by tax incentives likely wouldn’t happen with the state-mandated restrictions ultraconservatives in Topeka have in mind.
Besides, opponents of such strategies already have multiple ways to protest. Cities and counties address growth incentives in public meetings — and with far more transparency than we’ve seen of late in the state Capitol.
(It’s worth noting the property-tax lid itself was tucked into the controversial tax bill without open debate, as a way to gain favor from lawmakers needed to help the tax plan pass.)
The property-tax lid is among many pursuits of far-right Republicans executing the governor’s ALEC agenda, which also gave us Kansas’ biggest-ever tax increase (mostly sales taxes); huge income-tax cuts for the wealthy; and block-grant funding for K-12 public schools that triggered local property tax hikes.
Consider Kansas’ current state of affairs: Massive budget shortfalls, downgraded credit ratings and unimpressive job growth. Do we really want Brownback’s fiscally irresponsible camp controlling local government’s decision-making?
No one likes higher taxes. Governing bodies always should manage taxpayer dollars in a responsible way.
When they fail, voters can and should remove them from office — at the local and state levels.