Just Taxes Blog by ITEP

State Rundown 10/18: Ballot Initiative Efforts Being Finalized

October 18, 2017

.ITEP Staff

Ballot initiatives relating to taxes made news around the country this week, with Oregon voters to consider reversing new health care taxes, Washingtonians to vote on improving education funding, and Nebraskans to potentially vote on a state tax credit for school property taxes. Meanwhile, multiple states are finalizing their proposals to lure Amazon to build a new headquarters in their state, often through the use of massive tax subsidies. And in our “What We’re Reading” section we have sobering news from Moody’s Investors Service on states’ struggles to fund their infrastructure and save for the next recession.

— Meg Wiehe, ITEP Deputy Director, @megwiehe

  • The Pennsylvania House passed a proposal yesterday to fund the spending bill approved this past June 30. The proposal involves $1.5 billion in borrowing against state tobacco settlement dollars and $50 million in new sales taxes from online market places. Reception among the Senate and governor’s office is not looking too promising.
  • In Oregon, in effort to overturn part of the state’s recently passed health care taxes has qualified for the ballot, which will go before voters during a special election in January 2018.
  • In Washington, citizens will have the opportunity to weigh-in on legislative actions taken to raise education funding this past legislative session through a series on nonbinding advisory votes in November. While the high court still hasn’t weighed in on whether the property tax increases satisfy constitutional standards for adequacy, this is voters chance to do so.
  • The Quinault Indiana Nation is working on a proposal to take to the citizens in Washington state to address climate change through a 25 percent carbon tax.
  • Nebraska legislators and voters may both get the chance to vote on a proposed credit that would refund half of school property taxes paid, shifting $1.1 billion of school funding from the local to the state level. The proposal will be introduced as a bill and also potentially as a ballot initiative. Its proponents are less keen, however, to detail where the state will get the $1.1 billion to fund it.
  • As highway leaders in Arkansas meet to discuss potential funding initiatives to take to voters, Gov. Hutchinson has made clear his opposition to at least one popular course of action—using general fund revenues for road projects.
  • At least one state is resisting the urge to lure Amazon’s second headquarters with tax incentives—at least for now. Minnesota Dayton says their bid is professional and without “gimmicks or gadgetry,” though aren’t ruling out the possibility of some financial incentives if they move forward in the application process. New Jersey has been less shy about trying to win this race to the bottom, now offering $7 billion worth of tax subsidies.
  • A counter movement has launched in Utah to oppose the “Our Schools Now” initiative to increase revenues for public education. The opposition movement is being led by Americans for Prosperity Utah.
  • Kansas may become the next state to reconsider its tax credits and exemptions and whether it should beef up its evaluation mechanisms to ensure these programs are meeting policy goals.
  • The “dark store” tactic used by big-box retail stores to dramatically lower their property tax responsibilities even on recently constructed stores is the subject of a potential Michigan Supreme Court case as well as a nascent fight in Arkansas.

What We’re Reading…

If you like what you are seeing in the Rundown (or even if you don’t) please send any feedback or tips for future posts to Meg Wiehe at [email protected]. Click here to sign up to receive the Rundown via email.


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