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Senate passes one-time cut to property taxes

UPDATE: Senate Bill 6614 passed as part of the supplemental budget on Thursday, the final day of the 2018 session.

The state Senate has passed a one-time statewide property tax cut, but not without fierce opposition from Republicans.

“This is reckless. It is irresponsible. It is unconstitutional, Mr. President. We can do better,” Senator Hans Zeiger said on the floor.

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Zeiger and fellow Republicans believe the Democratic plan to divert money from the rainy day fund into an education fund as part of the plan to lower property taxes for 2019 is unconstitutional.

Even the state treasurer issued a statement, opposing the diversion.

“We’re extremely concerned with today’s proposals to divert $700 million from being deposited in the Rainy Day Fund. Choosing to not save today when we’re experiencing extraordinary revenue growth guarantees that our budget problems will be much greater when the next recession hits.”

Democrats disagree. Under the bill they passed, property taxes for 2019 would go down 30 cents per thousand dollars of value, a savings of about $150 for a homeowner with a house valued at $500,000.

Homeowners received their property tax bills in February, many of which increased by double digits. Most of that can be attributed to changes in the education funding prompted by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCleary case.

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