Saturday, May 09, 2009

What's (almost entirely) missing?

Though I agree with the Times-Picayune editorial page staff that raising that raising the homestead exemption would be a bad idea, I can't say that I was impressed by Thursday's editorial. Though I'm no fan of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, it's probably correct that businesses pay too much of the property tax burden in Louisiana. However, the editorial covered that.

I also agreed that:
Raising the exemption -- even in increments, as proposed in House Bill 485 -- would wipe out millions of dollars in tax revenues that pay for services like schools, drainage and infrastructure repairs. Local governments could be forced to cut services or shift the burden to businesses and renters.

So what's my beef? Well, as The BGR points out:
The millage rate impacts would also increase the tax
burden on the owners of rental properties and indirectly on their renters. Most, if not all, of the increase is likely to be passed on to renters, making their housing
less affordable. This could undermine the ongoing efforts to increase the supply of affordable rental housing throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Yet, the passage that I just quoted contains the only mention of the effect on rents in the entire editorial -- one word.

There's also something that seems to be missing in local news. Since increasing the homestead exemption would not be in the interest of most businesses,* it's easy to find reports of business groups speaking out against. However, the poor and oppressed tend be renters and the children of the poor and oppressed tend to be public school student. So, one can reasonably conclude that the poor and oppressed would be hurt by an increase in the homestead exemption. I was sure that there were organized groups that spoke out on behalf of the poor and oppressed locally. Yet, I can't find any evidence of anybody speaking for the poor on this issue.

*An increase in the property tax on businesses could add to the relative advantage of big box retailers that have been able to obtain property tax exemptions from local governments.

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