O'Connor finds a lot of opposition to the swap:
- Low-income advocates argue (correctly) that it hurts low-income renters, who pay more sales tax but get no benefit from the homeowner property tax breaks.
- Businesses argue (correctly) that they're being dumped on, since the carry an increased share of the cost of funding public schools through property taxes.
- Local governments argue (correctly) that their options for adequately funding their operations are being hamstrung, because the new law caps the growth of property assessed value and also caps property tax rates.
“It still represents the best that we could get through the Legislature to address a very important, long-standing problem,” said state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens.
And Rep. Don Bowen thinks last year's changes reflect the principle that "the state should protect homeowners who wisely chose their real estate or want to live in their homes long-term."
Martin's praise is about as lukewarm as you can get: anything is better than nothing. And Bowen's argument is, to be polite, just not applicable to the bill as passed. Everyone agrees it's important to find a way to keep long-time homeowners in their homes after they retire. But the question is, why is repealing a property tax for every single homeowner in the state-- and hiking the sales tax to pay for it-- an evenly remotely smart way of achieving this goal?
So the revised question should be whether anyone has anything that is both good and sensible to say about last year's tax reform. Any thoughts?