Property tax-cut trend running out of steam?
The property tax-cut express is running out of steam. Except for Arkansas and Massachusetts, or "Taxachusetts" as some call it, proposals to slash local real estate levies fared poorly in the Nov. 4 election.Skip to next paragraph
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Voters in at least seven states -- Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, and Utah -- flagged down major property tax-slashing measures. In most cases, the vote wasn't even close.
These measures, all but one of which were proposed in initiative petitions, were among 37 tax-related ballot questions in 18 states.
Although unofficial returns show that at least 20 of the 37 were approved, many of them were largely noncontroversial, involving things like increased tax exemptions for elderly and disabled homeowners.
In contrast, most of the 16 tax changes spurned by the electorate were generally more far-reaching.
Nuclear construction and waste-transportation bans, legalized gambling, legislative reapportionment, and salaries of public officials were other major issues dealt with by voters in some of the 42 states and the District of Columbia with legislature-shaped or initiative-petition proposals.
A Monitor survey indicates that, while a substantial number of some 350 measures on various ballots were approved, it appears that well over half of them went down to defeat.
Referendum questions placed on ballots through initiative petitions generally fared better than other ballot questions. Of the 41 initiatives, at least 18 were approved.
One of them provides for a convention of elected delegates to frame a constitution for the District of Columbia as a step toward statehood for the nation's capital.
Major ballot issue decisions include: Taxation
Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved a local property tax rollback measure keying future levies to 2 1/2 percent of the combined full market value of all real estate within the community. Also passed, and by an even more lopsided margin, was a restriction on state approval of new measures which would increase municipal costs unless state-funded or enacted by a two-thirds majority of both legislative branches.
Arkansas voters put a major property tax relief measure on the books. Missouri placed a limit on state tax assessments and forbade local tax boosts unless authorized by voter referendum. Montana voters approved keying of the state income tax to growth in the economy.
North Dakota voted for a 6 1/2 percent oil extraction tax on gross value of petroleum at the wellhead.
Increased property tax deductions for elderly or disabled persons passed in Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Nevada voted repeal of its personal property tax on household furniture. Voters also approved exemption of food from the state's 3 percent sales tax.
In Utah a similar measure to exempt food from the 4 percent sales tax was rejected. Also rejected there was a move to empower the legislature to repeal personal property taxes, providing the state reimbursed local governments for lost revenue.
Oregon citizens said no to a proposed boost in the state's gasoline tax from 7 cents to 9 cents a gallon.
Ohio voters turned down sweeping tax changes aimed at shifting part of the burden from property tax to other levies. Voters there did approve a measure to permit classification of real estate into two categories, to be assessed at different levels of full market value.
Most of the property tax measures turned down were patterned after California's Proposition 13. Also rejected were spending limit measures in Massachusetts and Michigan which would have increased state funding of schools. Gambling
Lotteries were approved in Arizona, Colorado, and the District of Columbia.
Voters in Missouri, Texas, and West Virginia cleared the way for legalized bingo sponsored by charitable or fraternal groups.