Thursday, January 07, 2016
Hogsett Beats The Drum Beat That Property Tax Caps Are Bad
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett sat down and met with all of the public school superintendents in Marion County yesterday. It's an overture for which he should be applauded. I don't think that happened once under former Mayor Greg Ballard, who lied to the editor of this blog about the partnership he planned to form with public schools when he became mayor. He was quickly schooled on the campaign finance bonanza presented by the peddlers of charter schools and abandoned that campaign promise like almost every other promise he made in that 2007 mayoral campaign.
What I wanted to draw attention to in this post-press conference Mayor Hogsett conducted surrounded by the public school superintendents was his return to that common meme of our dishonest politicians to blame property tax caps for the perceived funding woes of schools and local units of government beginning at the 3:50 mark. We must call them out every time they repeat this lie. Property tax caps involved a major trade off under which state government relied on a higher state sales tax to pick up entirely the education expense component of local schools, as well as the county welfare costs previously paid for by local property tax levies.
Those fundamental changes included in those property tax reform measures freed up a good deal of the potential property tax levy to be absorbed by other units of government, and they have fully taken advantage of it to the point of ensuring that most homeowners are taxed at the maximum possible amount permitted under state law. School districts have repeatedly been hitting up taxpayers by referendum to exceed those property tax caps, sometimes with success, sometimes without success. School districts have placed those ballot initiatives on the ballot in very low turnout primary elections rather than general elections at which more voters participate, creating a loophole of sorts to slip property tax increases passed the voters, which the state legislature ought to close.
So whenever you hear a politician like Hogsett castigate property tax caps, get in their face and call them out for the liars they are, armed with the knowledge of what's really transpiring. Any supposed shortage of revenues has more to do with the ever-expanding use of TIF districts to replenish the slush funds used to reward their campaign contributors, along with the overly generous use of tax abatements, which only serves to shift the tax burden to the rest of us left to foot the bill.