"What saves a man is to take a step.
Then another step.
always the same step,
but you have to take it."
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 9:12 PM
Subject: Other States Joining Florida in revolt against rising
To: Those Who Take and Those Who Are Taken:
Government has gone to far again and taken to
Other states joining Florida
in revolt against rising property taxes
By Scott Wyman
Posted April 18 2007
In one YouTube video, an elderly woman in
Pennsylvania explains how she lost her home because she couldn't afford her
taxes. Cartoon characters in another clip mock a New Jersey city official for
telling tax critics to move out of town.
Florida is far from alone in
public outrage over property taxes.
Years of rapidly rising real estate
values have ignited a tax revolt across the nation.
Battles are raging
from Idaho to Texas to Vermont over whether to cut property taxes, cap
government spending and change how homes and businesses are assessed. Grassroots
taxpayer coalitions, business groups, local officials and labor unions have
fought repeatedly over the past year about how to ease a record-high tax
"What has happened has been staggering because governments are
collecting twice as much in property taxes than they were just a few years ago,"
said Brian Phillips, spokesman for the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.
Tax Foundation, which has long tracked tax policies around the country,
concluded in a study this month that state and local taxes have hit an all-time
high, accounting for 11 percent of personal income on average
Only 12 states have a smaller tax burden than Florida, with
Alaska and New Hampshire the least taxed states and Vermont the highest taxed.
But the real estate boom since 2001 has Florida moving up the ranks in
The taxable value of property has increased double-digit
percentages for the past five years in Broward and Palm Beach counties. That has
generated more than $2 billion in extra revenue for local governments in the two
Legislators in Tallahassee could vote as early as this week on
tax relief, and their proposals mirror what has been considered
Rhode Island capped local government spending, as has been
suggested by Florida's House and Senate leaders. South Carolina, New Jersey and
Idaho raised their sales tax 1 cent so they could cut property taxes, the same
concept proposed by the Republican leadership of Florida's
Anti-tax activists caution that short-term fixes often win out
because of politics. Legislators are loath to tackle sensitive issues of
government duplication and employee pensions that will keep driving up costs and
taxes, activists say.
Take New Jersey.
Gov. Jon Corzine urged
lawmakers last year to think big about overhauling taxes. But pensions and
government merger soon became forbidden subjects, particularly after government
employees rallied at the Capitol and threatened to defeat politicians who
disagree with them.
New Jersey homeowners will receive tax breaks this
year of 10 percent to 20 percent depending on their income, but critics are
questioning how the state will pay for the cuts, particularly without more
attention to trimming government spending.
"They catered to the special
interests and didn't give us true reform," said Cy Thannikary, chairman of
Citizens for Property Tax Reform. "This is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated
on the taxpayers of New Jersey." One of the biggest stumbling blocks lawmakers
will face in Tallahassee is how to provide tax relief without deep cuts to
services. Local government officials across the country have challenged tax cuts
and spending caps as too destructive, just as their Florida counterparts are
beginning to do.
When Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell proposed an annual cap
of 3 percent on local government spending increases last month, the mayors of
the state's largest cities charged their communities would be thrown into chaos.
Local officials in Texas made similar claims when a blue-ribbon panel suggested
tightening spending caps there, a suggestion that has gone nowhere. The fights
around the country over taxes also show Floridians shouldn't expect easy answers
on who will benefit, how sustainable any tax cut is or whether spending caps on
local government will succeed.
Texas lawmakers agreed to cut property
taxes last year, but had to exceed limits set in the state constitution on
spending to replace the lost property tax revenue at local school districts. In
South Carolina, 20 school districts raised tax rates before new state spending
caps went into effect.
Emerson Read, the leader of South Carolina's tax
revolt, said the key to meaningful change is public involvement, like Tuesday's
rally in Tallahassee of people demanding property tax relief. The 82-year-old
Charleston real estate agent organized activists statewide last year and
launched an ad campaign to sway reluctant lawmakers.
"Government had just
gotten out of control, and a lot of people were hurting," Read
Scott Wyman can be reached at
email@example.com or 954-356-4511.