Brownback Pushes For Property Tax Reform

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Governor Sam Brownback is calling for property tax reform.

He joined Wichita-area lawmakers Friday, seeking changes they say will make property taxes more fair.

Have you ever wondered how local governments can get more tax revenues without raising property tax mill levies?

Simply by collecting more taxes when our property values rise. The governor says it's time for a change.

"Now's the time to talk about property tax and tax transparency," Brownback said.

The governor is touting the success of income tax relief pushed through the last legislature. He new wants similar property tax reform by way of The Property Tax Transparency Act.

"Basically, it's saying that if a local unit of government is going to raise property taxes, they've got to vote to do it," Brownback said.

The governor is joined by Sen. Susan Wagle and Rep. Steve Brunk, both Wichita Republicans. They say local governments can now collect higher taxes and increase local spending simply by raising property values.

Homeowners' bills rise with home values, yet officials can say they did not raise rates. The reform act calls for local governments to vote before spending the tax windfall from those higher property values.

"And that puts the citizens in many ways back in charge," Brunk said. "They know that their local elected officials have actually proactively raised those taxes."

They say it does not keep local officials from raising budgets, but it makes them more accountable when they do.

"And it will give the Kanas property owners the confidence that their property taxes aren't going to escalate exponentially as they have in the past," Wagle said.

Democrats want to make the changes now, Rep. Jim Ward said.

Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said his party has been waiting for the governor to join them on property tax reform.

"But if the governor truly is committed and has been converted to property tax cuts, we are open-armed, welcoming him to the conversation," Ward said.

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