Plain Talk: This Year North Dakotans Will Likely Get Another Chance to Abolish Property Taxes at the Ballot Box

Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck Bismarck Tribune photo

“I plan to raise in excess of $1.5 million for this.”

That’s what state Rep. Rick Becker said on this episode of Plain Talk. He was describing a nascent campaign behind a new ballot measure, which would amend the state constitution to end North Dakota property taxes.

The plan is to rely on donations from North Dakotans. Becker says he’s asking supporters to cut a check for 20 percent of their property tax bill.

The campaign has about $100,000 in pledges so far.

North Dakota voters have considered this before. In 2012 a constitutional amendment ending property taxes went down in flames, with over 76 percent of voters casting a ballot against it.

“We had an opportunity in 2012, and we let it go by,” Becker said, arguing that the previous iteration of this proposal didn’t give lawmakers enough time to adjust to a tax environment in which they cannot rely on property taxes. Becker says that, among other problems, is why a “fear” campaign from opponents was successful.

He said the 2012 campaign didn’t have enough answers for curious voters. “When you’re up against a campaign of fear, you have to have answers.”

Becker’s proposal, if passed, wouldn’t be implemented until 2022, giving lawmakers time to meet and iron out any issues.

Would this mean other taxes would have to go up? Becker says no that the revenues could primarily come from money the state is already spending.

He notes that in 2012 an argument against ending property taxes is that it would put the state 100 percent in charge of school funding, forcing local officials to come begging to lawmakers in Bismarck for funding.” When we voted on this in 2012, the state paid 50 percent of school funding,” he said. Since then, “the state started paying for 80 percent of school funding.”

To follow the campaign, subscribe to their Facebook Page called End Property Tax. Becker says the campaign will eventually have a website up at endpropertytaxes.com.

To subscribe to the podcast, click here.

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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