Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What was really wrong with the homestead exemption bill?

So I received a press release yesterday from Kevin O'Halleran with the Virginia State Democratic Caucus. It was the first time I had received something from them so was curious as to how they became so wayward as to send one of their talking points emails to a die-hard Republican.

It began by shouting out the headline, "REPUBLICANS KILL BILLS TO PROVIDE PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR STRUGGLING VIRGINIANS." Hmm, okay. That just begged to be researched because it did not sound like all the Republican electeds I know who are constantly working for the betterment of "struggling" Virginians.

In a classic "Political Spin: 101" opening, the email began:
In a move that shows the Republicans in the Senate are more concerned about partisanship than tax cuts for their constituents, the Republicans in the Senate block voted to kill House Bill 11 and House Joint Resolution 4 that would have provided property tax relief to struggling Virginians throughout the Commonwealth.
Now for "Research: 101."

HJ4, Property Tax Reduction Bill

- Yesterday Senate Republicans along with Two Democrats (Colgan and Puckett) voted to continue HJR 4 to 2009, which effectively killed the bill.

- HJR 4 would have called for a ballot question giving localities the ability to provide property tax reductions.

- The Problem with this legislation is that it was not a universal property tax reduction, so the localities could have made it apply to just one segment of the population.

- Property Tax Reductions for Homeowners should be universal.

- The enactment bill for this legislation has already been defeated, so as it stands right now, even if the measure was placed on the ballot and passed, it would never go into effect, because it currently has no enactment date.

- The process for a ballot question measure in Virginia is this:
* Bill must pass the General Assembly twice, and it must be once before and once after an election (so two different General Assemblies vote on the bill)

* Once it has been approved by two separate General Assemblies, it would be put on the ballot the following November for a vote, if the measure is enacted it would go into effect based on the enactment clause.
- Lowell Feld (Raising Kaine) is misrepresenting the facts on this bill.
* It was not a property tax reduction, it was a progressive tax aimed at impacting only one segment of the population.

* Bottom line is that this bill gives local governments the power to pick who they want to favor with lower rates and who they want to penalize with higher rates.

* Property taxes are a problem in Virginia, not just a problem for individuals who own a home valued under a certain amount.

* This bill truly would have been a knife to the heart of Virginia homeownership.
Info from Virginia Club for Growth

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