Should seniors skate?

The Legislative session doesn’t start for another week and a half and I’m already tired of the bad ideas being proposed. I previously wrote about HB2002 Rep. Mark Finchem’s (R-Oro Valley) proposal, which would “allow the state to fire teachers who discuss politics, religion, or racial issues in classroom settings.” Yesterday, Newsweek picked up on Phoenix New Times reporting that nine of the points in his bill were “lifted directly from the Stop K–12 Indoctrination campaign, which the David Horowitz Freedom Center sponsors. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes David Horowitz as ‘a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-black movements.’” Not to be outdone, Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) submitted HB2015 which covers the same territory.

Now, we have “a self-proclaimed ‘tax activist’ who wants to excuse anyone 65 or older from paying property tax. Her name is Lynne Weaver and she is working with a former state GOP chairman to permanently ban property taxes on AZ home owners 65 and older.

What a ridiculous idea! As a Capitol Media Services article points out, if the initiative passes, homeowners under 65 would be left to make up the property tax burden the elderly were relieved of. This tax money after all, funds public education, emergency services and other community programs. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t rely on property taxes to fund these programs because it inevitably results in winners and losers. But the funding for these essential services has to come from somewhere and for now, that’s property taxes.

According to the AZ Department of Health Services “2014–2018 Arizona Healthy Aging Plan”, the number of Arizonans aged 65 and older was 14% in 2010. By 2025, the plan states “there will be as many people over 65 as under age 15 living in Arizona. These increases will be accompanied by a decrease in the proportion of working-age Arizonans who help support older adults in numerous ways including paying taxes on wages that help fund Social Security and Medicare.”

So, not only will there not be enough young people to support the older ones, but Weaver’s initiative would have those young people responsible for picking up the bill for elders’ property tax relief as well?

A California transplant, Weaver’s tried to limit property taxes before with efforts based on California’s disastrous Proposition 13, “a 1978 measure rolling back property valuations and capping year-over-year increases.” With this latest effort, she thinks she’ll have more luck targeting only seniors. But, she’ll need to get 356,467 valid signatures by July 2, 2020 for the initiative to make the ballot next year.

Which brings me back to another of Finchem’s proposals. He recently announced he wants to allow initiative organizers to collect signatures online. This caught my attention because although Sandy Bahr of the AZ Sierra Club lauded his proposal, I know (given his denial of climate change), he is not proposing this change to help promote renewable energy, or any other sane issue liberals care about.

What if Finchem wants the on-line initiative signing capability to help Weaver’s initiative qualify for the ballot? And if it qualifies, what’s the chances the voters will approve it? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that the 65+ age group are the most reliable voters of them all.

Then again, maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age. No, I’m not 65 yet, but I do live in an active adult community. And yes, I believe in paying taxes for public education. Retirees (and others) paid for mine after all, and I want to ensure there are plenty of well educated young people to take care of all of our futures. Crazy concept, huh?

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.




12 responses to “Should seniors skate?

  1. Linda Lyon, how much did your property tax bill go up when politicians removed hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial property from the tax rolls as a political favor to cronies and lobbyists? Almost every commercial property in downtown Phoenix has been removed from the tax rolls.

    • Frances Perkins

      There is no doubt that the cummulation of exemptions and tax credits for every group that can successfully lobby their legislative pals is one of the worst things that has happened to both the property tax and sales tax codes in Arizona. So your solution is to carve out another group who can shift their burden onto someone else? The real solution is getting rid of exemptions and tax credits for everybody under the sun. The fairest tax code has the widest possible base and the lowest possible rates. That includes some of the worst in memory, airplane sales for certain users, the sales tax exemption for Super Bowl tickets, and the famous pipeline size exemption. As to tax credits, start with getting rid of credits for “donations” to private school tuition organizations.

      • Property taxes bear no relationship to ability to pay. Valuations are random and arbitrary and tax bills are totally unpredictable. One thing you can count on is your property tax bill keeps going up. For many seniors, their fixed income does not accommodate these property tax increases. So in the interest of achieving the “fairest tax code”, you are okay with taxing seniors out of their homes? Phoenix has a growing problem of senior homelessness. First they have to sell the family home and move to a rental. Then rents keep going up while their income does not. They lose their apartment and the next step is homelessness. They are starting to build shelters specifically for homeless seniors. Surely government can operate without having to tax seniors out of their homes.

  2. Well, Ms. Lyon, I’m afraid I have to disagree with you.

    Drastic measures like California’s Proposition 13 are taken when politicians assume that people can pay their property taxes no matter how high they go and fail to provide relief for those who have very legitimate issues.

    Do you think that elderly people on fixed incomes should have to sell their homes because they can’t afford the increases in the property tax?

    One way to INSURE that a “tax activist” will eventually succeed is to do nothing. Just keep raising taxes and blather about all the good it’s doing.

    • Thanks for the read and comment Liza. No, I don’t want elderly to have to sell their homes. But neither do I want young people stuck with the total cost of educating our children. How’s about we stop giving so much welfare to corporations in the form of tax cuts and credits and use that money to properly fund all our schools so that locally supported funding (bonds and overrides) are not as critically necessary?

  3. Frances Perkins

    Absolutely insane. I just turned 65 and this is complete nonsense. Everyone needs to support every level of the demographic. The old ‘ I dont have kids in school so why should I pay, nonsense.’ I used to say, “why should I pay for social security since I’m not getting it?” Now I do. Ms. Weaver should get the exact services she is willing to pay for. Zero, zilch, zip. This idea is complete nonsense and needs to be dead before it goes anywhere. Go back to California.

    • Your response, Ms. Perkins, makes me wonder if (some) Democrats ever really listen to themselves.

      People are outraged, for example, by the rising cost of prescription drugs and rightfully so. No one should have to choose between their insulin that controls their diabetes and paying their mortgage or putting food on the table, etc… No one should have to live with sickness or pain or even die because they can’t afford their prescriptions.

      Well, rising property taxes are not much different. When your budget is stretched, it’s really all about where you are going to get the money to pay your bills. And when there’s not enough money, lifestyle changes are often forced on people without other options. And yes, for older people living on Social Security and savings, this may very well mean giving up their home.

      In her blog post, Ms. Lyons casually states, “This (property) tax money after all, funds public education, emergency services and other community programs. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t rely on property taxes to fund these programs..” A statement obviously written by someone who has enough money to pay her property taxes but is oblivious to those who are just barely making it and fear what will happen when they can’t.

      I do not advocate that everyone over 65 should be exempt from property tax. But I do believe that many of them and perhaps others with limited resources are in need of some major relief.

      Ms. Lyons states, “I want to ensure there are plenty of well educated young people to take care of all of our futures. Crazy concept, huh?”

      Well, I would like to insure that people have a place to live and are not choosing between their insulin and their property tax. Crazy concept, huh?

      • Frances Perkins

        So we should only pay property tax based on our imcome or age? OK a poor 25 year old, just getting started in life with a small income and a starter home should be exempt too? Absolutely the wrong path to go down. I am just now 65, retired and also on a fixed income. Who isnt? I dont know of anyone getting monthly income increases, unless you are a for profit charter school.operator. Sorry, you are just wrong and so is the old folks tax exemption. Maybe get rid of the nonsense where Medicare cant negotiate drug prices, first.

        • What I said about prescription drugs was just ONE example, Ms. Perkins. But thank you for pointing out that there is a viable solution to the prescription drug problem just as there are other solutions to the problems of funding government services. In fact, Ms. Lyons herself gets around to mentioning in a comment, “How’s about we stop giving so much welfare to corporations in the form of tax cuts and credits and use that money to properly fund all our schools…”

          Government works better when we do not take the path of least resistance because it takes too long and it’s too hard to do what is fair, reasonable, and sustainable.

          And, FYI, most poor 25 year olds don’t have starter homes. Now that you’re 65 and retired, Ms. Perkins, maybe you can research some of this stuff.

          https://azgroundgame.org/stop-thief-lets-restore-fair-taxes/

      • For the record Liza, I am NOT “oblivious to those barely making it.” But, I am a school board member and just tend to be focused on the plight of our children (especially those who 25% who live in poverty) and our underfunded district schools that work hard to educate them. Why do we accept the fact that it is either/or? We are the United States of America; we should be able to take care of all our citizens!

        • Your position is so full of contradictions that I don’t know where to start, Ms. Lyons.

          I’m not saying that educating children should not be a priority. It should be. It’s just a question of where the money comes from. In your own words, “In a perfect world, we wouldn’t rely on property taxes…”

          Then aim for the more perfect world, Ms. Lyons, where the ones who can afford to pay are the ones who pay. It’s the long term, more sustainable solution to the problem.

          You cannot justify your position and you attempt to cloud your lack of concern for those who struggle to pay their ever increasing property taxes with your “we must take care of our children” rhetoric.

          And this, “We are the United States of America; we should be able to take care of all our citizens!” Well, Ms. Lyons, everyone includes the elderly, the disabled, low wage earners, etc…

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