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Matt Singer on July 10, 2006 - 11:55am
The property tax debate has long been a tough nut to crack for progressives. Especially since the 1990s, when it became the rage for rightwing legislators to cut spending at the state level, leaving county and local governments with few options other than raising property taxes to address shortfalls for key services like education. The worst part is that these tax shifts increased property taxes, which already tend to be regressive in nature. By shifting the taxes to a regressive system that can also witness wild fluctuations during housing booms, conservatives primed the pump for property tax revolts that would leave key services underfunded. Fortunately, progressives have a shining example in Montana of how to deal with the issue without sacrificing progressive values. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has introduced an outstanding property tax rebate that addresses the property tax question through a progressive rebate system that also ensures long-term fiscal health. Read all about it in today's Stateside Dispatch, as well as a few other policies that can be used to prevent property tax revolts by addressing the root problems that property tax systems face: the regressive nature of property taxes; the instability of property values; and the impact of shifting an increased tax burden on to residential property owners.