Property tax levies rising 6.1 percent in southeastern Wisconsin in 2008 have the newspapers and anti-tax mouthpieces spouting their misdirected and confused rhetoric again.
First, spending at the state-level has not been exploding over the last few decades as these crusaders would like us to believe.
Second, discarding most property tax exemptions (which amount to one-third of all property) would be a boon to most state budgets and a relief to many taxpayers.
Third, trashing numerous corporate tax-code scams and collecting the fair share of taxes from the business community would be another infusion of funds into state and local coffers.
Fourth, the federal government could step in and aid the states.
Taxes are the price of civilization. We all depend on the services and amenities that taxes pay for. The answer isn't the race-to-the-bottom, discard the services that make us desirable cities and states mantra we hear from the talking-heads. We need to reinstate fairness into our tax code so that our progressive tradition is fulfilled and those with the most means and whom benefit the most from such an enviable way of life pay their fair share.
Otherwise, our society will continue its gradual descent into mediocrity with only the very well-off (whom most of the tax code already benefits) being able to afford and enjoy a respectable standard-of-living. If we allow public services to be cut to such a drastic degree, only the wealthy will be able to afford many of these public-goods, that we cherish in our everyday lives, in the private market.
For Further Reading:
Budget Cuts or Tax Increase at the State Level: Which is Preferable During an Economic Downturn.
State Expenditure Growth Slowing.
State Spending as Percent of GDP.