Dorso Column: Eliminate The Income Tax, Not The Property Tax

I have to admit I am totally perplexed by the logic of some of the SAB readers. On the one hand you are so conservative that you feel most of the Republicans legislators are RINOs. On the other hand you think that a measure eliminating the property tax is a good solution.

Some of you may remember that at the founding of this great nation you weren’t allowed to vote unless you paid taxes. That had to be property tax as the income tax was passed relatively late in the history of this nation. Although I may not agree with basing the right to vote on paying property tax I do think that if you don’t pay taxes of some kind you probably shouldn’t have a say in how the money is spent.

I have opposed the State of North Dakota’s deeper involvement in the financing of public schools since my time in the legislature. Quite simply with more federal and state money going in to the local school districts it erodes local control of the schools. Whether we talk about parochial schools or private colleges and universities the quality of education they provide surpasses taxpayer supported institutions in almost every instance. That should give you conservatives a moment to pause and think. This legislative session hundreds of millions more was dumped into an education system that has trouble educating students well enough to do university work at an admittedly dumped down system of higher education which also received a undeserved bountiful appropriations.

I don’t know Mrs. Charlene Nelson of Empower the Taxpayer, but either she is the unwitting dupe of the NDEA or she is so real estate tax centric she can’t see the forest for the trees. I will guarantee that it won’t be long and the legislature will be setting teacher salaries. That will happen sooner than later if public policy makers continue down the road of funding the majority of the budgets of the school districts. At some point there will be no need for individual school districts as their finances will be run from Bismarck. The logical solution then will be to combine all of the school districts into county districts. Florida has one school district per county. That is what the Florida Education Assoc. wanted and they got it. Now teacher salaries are set by the legislature which is again what they wanted. It is so much easier to influence education policy with political donations to legislators then to have to deal with a plethora of independent school districts.

An out crop of those decisions is that Florida is now awash in charter schools. Because the legislature doesn’t want to have political battles with the FEA it would rather run a dual school system. It is no surprise that the charter schools who don’t suffer the same restrictions as the county school districts have better out comes. Isn’t that a novel idea? Less government intrusion gets a better run school. By the way if you want your student to go to a charter school you get to pay a handsome tuition.

Some of you conservatives deride the legislature while it has basically succumbed to your wishes by dedicating even larger percentages of the general fund to the false promise of property tax relief. While deriding the legislature you continue to let your local elected officials raid your pocket books.

A conservative should be for local control yet some of you continue to ask for more money from Bismarck. Don’t you know that eventually that has to mean you lose local control? It is axiomatic. Our Federal government has made it an art form. They’ll give you the money if you comply with their rules.

I do understand that a majority of North Dakotans are real estate centric. When I look at the backgrounds of your legislators and the governor it is easy to see why the false promises of property tax relief is an easy sell. What I don’t understand is their penchant for being led down a path that will only make their jobs harder. The power of the NDEA, ND of Assoc. of Counties, ND Assoc of Cities and other lobbying groups becomes greater while individual citizens are marginalized.

This session should have proven it to you. School districts, universities, political subs got a majority of the largess supplied by the oil revenue and the taxpayers are getting a miniscule portion of the bulging purse.

Instead of another property tax measure on the ballot, which will do you great harm in the end; you should be demanding the elimination of income taxes. If that passed you’d have a good chance of the legislature saying no to the rent seekers when they come crying for even more of the general fund revenues.

I don’t care how the legislature dressed it up. Buying down school mill levies or dumping money on political subs without capping the political subs is a downward turning spiral. Every time the legislature gets involved in property taxes it turns into a gigantic mess without a solution. All you need for proof is this drawn out legislative session.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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