It is not Just Education Driving Property Taxes Higher

Don’t Just Focus on the Perennial Whipping Boy

The popular whipping boy blamed for ever-rising property taxes is spending on education. But it is not the sole culprit driving higher taxes. County and municipal budgets have maintained their share of the total property tax pie over the years. They have been conveniently hiding in the shadows, always pointing the finger back to education if the light ever fell on them.

Were You Happy Ten Years Ago?

If one would just take out their tax bill from ten years ago and note the dollar total for education spending at that time and then take today’s tax bill, adding together the municipal and county amount, they will find that total is higher than the education amount from ten years ago.

The question one must ask themselves is whether they were satisfied with the education portion as an acceptable amount ten years ago?. Truth be told, no. People were complaining about the education share twenty and thirty years ago. The point is obvious: All aspects of government are getting more expensive. None are decreasing, let alone holding steady. The Property Tax just happens to be the easiest one politicians and special interest groups (such as unions) can find to absorb increases.

All Areas of Government Must be Scrutinized for Savings

The point is that we must stop blaming one part of government services for a problem that is caused by all. Controlling spending must be done at all levels and in every corner, not just with local schools.

Controlling Spending Not the Core Issue

Yet, neither runaway nor controlled spending at local and county levels have anything to do with the core problem with the Property Tax. The problem is rooted in whether it is fair or not. Clearly, it is not fair. It is structurally and inherently skewed against those at the lower income levels.

Deal With Spending Controls, Yes

We need to deal with runaway spending. But dealing with them will not address the problem with property taxes. First of all, there is not enough reduction in spending to significantly impact property taxes level. In fact, the governor and others admit that they merely hope to reign in its rate of increase. Forget about reduction.

If Not Spending Then What?

Elimination is the only way to address the Property Tax. Eliminating it will consequently force elected officials to more directly address spending at all other levels of government. That is because they will no longer be able to allow the Property Tax to absorb their profligate spending while not being held directly accountable for it increasing year after year. Take away this meal ticket—uncontrolled increases in the Property Tax—and they will have nowhere to hide runaway spending. When they are forced to conspicuously raise taxes they will either do so or deal with their profligate spending ways.

Do Not Get Sidetracked With Ancillary Issues

Many will say the problem with high property taxes is deficient state aid. But what is state aid other than tax dollars collected one way and returned in another? Additionally, even when not kept flat, state aid has never resulted in lower levels of property taxes. It only kept them from rising as rapidly as they do these days. This is another red herring offered by those who want to retain the property tax or just do not get it. We need a form of taxation other than the Property Tax to fund schools as well as local and county governments.

An Inexorable Conclusion

Controlling runaway government spending will actually be more likely dealt with if the Property Tax is eliminated. Exposing legislators to being directly culpable for tax increases will force their hand and result in spending control. No one has ever been voted out for decreasing the size of government. For raising taxes? Yes, all the time.

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