Issue: Initiative 747, a Tim Eyman initiative passed in 2001, severely restricted annual growth in state and local property tax levies. While Initiative 747 has not led to satisfaction with the tax system or reduced the disparity in what upper-income and middle-class homeowners pay in property taxes, it has negatively impacted our ability to pay for vital services in many parts of the state. The Legislature is considering the extension of this unfair policy. Instead of rushing such an important matter into law, legislators should slow down and consider the alternatives.
Background: There are a host of property tax proposals before the Legislature this session. Each should be measured by two critical standards: Does it make the system more fair, and does it generate enough funding to support the vital public services that property taxes pay for, like schools, hospitals, fire fighting, EMS, and more.
House Bill 2117 would establish Initiative 747 as law and continue to cap the annual growth in property tax levies at 1%. At this rate, property tax increases would lag well behind the rate of inflation.
Even though I-747 has been in place for 5 years, the public is still angry about our unfair property tax system. Our overall tax system is the most regressive in the nation and places an undue burden upon low- and middle-income people. Rural communities that have been hit the hardest have joined together to support a lawsuit against I-747. Some of us have already felt the pinch of I-747 in the form of overcrowded classrooms, struggling fire and ambulance services, library and parks cutbacks, and long waits in hospital emergency rooms.
Instead of rushing HB 2117 through the process, the Legislature should slow down and take the time to fully consider the effects of I-747 and the many other options before them, some of which would make the system more fair and better fund the services upon which we all depend.
Action: Contact your legislators and ask them to oppose bills to codify Initiative 747. The policy has not worked for Washington taxpayers. It has not made Washington’s property tax system fairer and has left important basic services underfunded. Contact your legislators by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or visit www.wataxfairness.org to take action online.
To learn more about this issue, download a copy of the report “Balancing Adequacy and Equity in Washington State’s Property Tax,” just released by the Washington Budget and Policy Center at www.budgetandpolicy.org. Or visit www.wataxfairness.org and sign up to receive regular action alerts.
For copy of actual issue, go to https://www.realchangenews.org/2007/03/07/mar-7-2007-entire-issue