State Sen. Rick Wilborn, whose district includes Lindsborg and the Smoky Valley, has mailed to constituents a newsletter proclaiming, among other things, that the Kansas Legislature has rescued us from the tyranny of a property tax increase.
“Property taxes are the most hated of all taxes ‒ and for good reason!” Wilborn begins. “…I have continually heard from constituents frustrated with out of control property tax increases. Over the last two years, I have proudly supported legislation protecting hard working taxpayers. I believe a property tax lid is a common sense solution that ensures accountability by letting you decide whether your property taxes would increase above the rate of inflation.”
Wilborn was proud to support House Bill 2109 a year ago; the measure prohibits local levies from increasing above the rate of inflation (whatever that is) without voter approval, effective in 2018.
Legislators who know little or nothing about government are fond of that tired wheeze about the “most-hated” property tax.
Citizens now confront far greater expenses than most tax rates, including the one on property. Health insurance, for openers. The light bill, for another. And over the months, sales taxes take an enormous toll, but few of us bother to add them up. There are more, but that’s the idea. Property taxes aren’t the great bother that
political hacks make them out to be.
The most tired, overworked and shabby squawks on a legislator’s cheat sheet are those about taxes. (Sniveling about the “evils” of big government runs a close second…) Taxes pay law enforcement. They keep streets clean. They bring us safe water and carry away the trash. They build bridges and bring electricity, keep the ball fields trim, the highways smooth, our schools open, our hospitals in order and, at the punch of 911, will bring help to an emergency. And that’s for starters. Taxes are to help us have better lives. Slurs on them may bring snickers from the rube on a bar stool or cheers from the hillbilly crowd, but the smart people pay their taxes and are grateful for the investment. Sneers today, especially in Kansas, mark the fool ‒ or a clueless lawmaker.
Wilborn, like many Republican lawmakers, squeals about taxes because he is scared. The word is out. Local levies are headed up because Sam Brownback and his pals in the House and Senate have bled state dry ‒ siphoned money once pledged to aid local government, reimbursement for mandated state programs, for collecting taxes, for transportation, health, public assistance and a long list of other joint ventures.
Republican legislators, including Wilborn, went along with enormous tax cuts for certain businesses and wealthy citizens, spending hundreds of millions of dollars more than the state had in the bank, for tax relief for privileged classes.
Left to themselves, local officials must keep cities and counties safe and habitable. Local taxes must go up because the state is broke. Republican legislators, though, want to prevent local tax bills from revealing their gross negligence in Topeka; they’ve put the squeeze on locals with the bald lie that it’s for our own protection.
Don’t believe it. Not a word. The state’s budget collapse can’t be fixed with falsehoods about local taxes. It can be fixed only by voting the bandits out of office.
‒ JOHN MARSHALL