(BISMARCK, N.D.) – During floor debate on Senate Bill 2156, the Republican majority rejected a floor amendment to provide $250 million in direct property tax relief for North Dakota families, a sum which would have reduced property taxes across the board by 12.5%. Instead, the members of the majority voted in favor the broader bill to permanently cut taxes to corporations by $50 million dollars and makes an additional $200 million in reductions to the personal income tax, an approach similar to an initiated measure that was rejected by voters in 2008.
“I am concerned that our friends in the Senate majority have lost focus on the need to cut property taxes,” said Senator Jim Dotzenrod, the senior Dem-NPL member of the Finance and Taxation Committee and author of the floor amendment on property tax relief. “We presented a clear opportunity to put property tax cuts ahead of cuts to taxes for out-of-state corporations and the personal income tax cut. The majority passed up a chance to cut the tax — property tax — that people are most concerned about.”
After Senator Dotzenrod’s amendment was defeated, Senate Dem-NPL Leader Mac Schneider asked for a division of the bill for proper consideration of the separate issues of corporate tax cuts and to cuts to the personal income tax. According to a Legislative Council memorandum, 82% of the corporate income tax in 2010, the last year for which data is available, was paid for by corporations headquartered out of state. The vote on the division dealing with corporate tax cuts was 14 to 33, while the vote on the personal income tax reductions was 46 to 1.
“This is a case of misplaced priorities,” Schneider said. “Every dollar we provide in corporate tax cuts is one dollar of property tax relief that we failed to provide for North Dakotans.”
The Senate proceeded to pass SB 2156 by 42 to 5.