"This initiated constitutional measure would amend sections 1, 4, 14, 15, and 16 of Article X of the North Dakota Constitution and repeal sections 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 of that same article, eliminating property taxes, poll taxes, and acreage taxes, effective January 1, 2012. The measure would require the Legislative Assembly to replace lost revenue to cities, counties, townships, school districts, and other political subdivisions with allocations of various state-level taxes and other revenues, without restrictions on how these revenues may be spent by the political subdivisions."
This is how Measure 2 will appear on the ballot in June. Supporters of the measure, which would eliminate all property taxes in the state, believe the above language is all that's needed to accomplish their goal. They are wrong.
The vaguely worded measure simply says the Legislature has to replace the lost property tax revenue with various taxes and other revenues. Supporters of the measure can't be bothered with details. Let the Legislature figure it out, they continue to say. If supporters are in favor of maintaining local control, why do they advocate giving lawmakers even more power? Is anyone, including legislators, comfortable with that? Do we want legislators from other parts of the state deciding what's best for the Minot Public School District, or deciding how much money Ward County should get to help fix flood-damaged roads? Should out-of-state landowners be rewarded by not paying any property taxes in North Dakota?
We think not.
We're all for lowering property taxes, but Measure 2 is not the way to accomplish that goal. It's simply a bad idea. Measure 2 supporters have tried all sorts of ways to avoid discussing the proposal's shortcomings, including accusing state and local officials of lying (a lawsuit to silence the measure's critics was thrown out of court). They're not fooling anyone who's paying attention.
A recent poll found that 70 percent of those responding would vote "no" on Measure 2. Frankly, we're surprised the number wasn't higher. Measure 2 is fatally flawed, and voters should reject the measure at the polls.