An unusual coalition of forces, including the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the state’s largest public employees’ unions, vehemently oppose the idea, [questioning] precisely how lawmakers would make up some $812 million in annual property tax revenue; what effect the change would have on hundreds of other state laws and regulations that allude to the more than century-old property tax; and what decisions would be left for North Dakota’s cities, counties and other governing boards if, say, they wanted to build a new school, hire more police, open a new park.ADDED: Rush Limbaugh connected this story to the aftermath of the recall in a segment of yesterday's show, which I blogged about here. Here's the part about North Dakota and taxes:
[North Dakota has raised] sales tax revenue 86%... And they did it, of course, without raising the sales tax rate. There's just all kinds of new economic activity going on....Basically, it's a lot of oil fracking, but the liberal voices are playing in the media, scaring people about pollution:
It's an effort to get people opposed to the boom that's happening in North Dakota. It's like Scott Walker. After the Scott Walker recall debacle for the Democrats, what is the Democrat headline, what's the media headline? "Romney is Going to Cut Public Sector Jobs." That's the way they're trying to instill fear. Yeah, Romney's gonna cut public sector jobs.But Scott Walker's recall victory steeled conservative nerve, so that a strong argument against public sector unions is now being made by other state governors. The point about North Dakota is that it could be a basis for building an argument about economic development as the best way to build tax revenue using sales tax — with no increase in the tax rate and justifying the reduction or elimination of other forms of tax.
North Dakota votes on ending the property tax today (exactly one week after the Wisconsin recall), so it's possible that there will be a big victory there that will give conservatives confidence to argue boldly for lots of fracking and tax-cutting. Rush mentions the North Dakota governor as someone who, like Walker, could become a hero for this line of conservative argument. There's just one big problem! North Dakota's Governor Jack Dalrymple — a Republican — has opposed the property tax ban:
“It’s mind-boggling, really,” he said, in an interview, of the effects of such a ban. “We’d be changing everything, frankly.”Dalrymple is no Scott Walker.
The notion, he said, that the state has enough surplus to replace property taxes for localities around the state without raising other taxes is false. For starters, he said, much of the state’s benefits from the oil boom are already dedicated legally to particular funds and cannot simply be transferred to support schools, counties, towns, park districts and the like.Cannot simply? Like you can't change whatever these limits are? Is it complicated? Do it complicatedly.
“I have to say that we totally understand that North Dakotans are very concerned about their property tax payments,” Mr. Dalrymple said. “You have a tension there, and people say this can’t keep on.”This guy is no Scott Walker. Rush Limbaugh needs to attend to this detail.