Today the House reconsidered their vote yesterday approving Governor Jack Dalrymple’s $714 million property tax reform bill, and they killed it on a 53-39 vote.
“Yesterday we succumbed to the fact that all we could get from the Senate was $250 million in personal and corporate income tax cuts,” said House Majority Leader Al Carlson expressing no small amount of frustration with the state Senate. “I felt like the prisoner of war who was given two choices. We can either starve you to death for two months or we can shoot you today. I feel like we’ve been held hostage.”
“We have just as much power and authority as they do, but we’re supposed to bend over and get shoved into the river.”
So what’s the point of killing a massive school funding/property tax bill on the 80th and final day of the legislative session? Rep. Carlson is hoping the Senate will instead pass. That bill has $400 million in mill levy reduction grants and $338 million in direct property tax relief.
“And shame on them if they kill our reform bills,” said Rep. Carlson of legislation he describes as ensuring that “when you send a dollar back you get a dollar back [in property tax relief].”
Whether the Senate or the House gets their way in this struggle, the state is going to be buying down property taxes. “I’m not sure anything we’ve got will stop the run-away growth in assessed valuation,” said Carlson expressing a rather blunt lack of confidence in the legislature’s ability to change anything with property taxes.
The question is, will it be done through an on-going state obligation to school spending or through one-time grants? And what accountability measures will be attached?
The ball is in the Senate’s court now, but I expect this food-fight will go late into the night today.