You could almost see it happening last week, when the House’s voting board lit up.
It showed 116 “yes” votes for House Bill 2542, that little gem that exempts from property taxes hobbyist-built homemade airplanes.
But the key to that vote was the amendment by state Rep. Julie Menghini, D-Pittsburg, a day earlier that drew 102 votes to put $45 million into the state’s little-used-of-late Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund.
That amendment, of course, proposed to put that $45 million in this election year into county budgets — with the requirement that it be spent only to reduce your property tax bill. No re-graveling roads, no redecorating commissioners’ offices or hiring new workers. Just cutting property taxes.
Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Cutting the most disliked tax that is levied on voters who own property.
Well, after that amendment vote, it appears that 14 state representatives were taken to the woodshed — or at least to a short seminar on remedial politics. They got the message that cutting property taxes — or appearing to attempt to cut property taxes — is the best election-year game in town.
So, by the next day, 116 legislators got the opportunity to have a final-action vote to their credit for wanting to reduce your property taxes. There’s a straight line between voting to cut property taxes and the legislator’s name on the ballot.
So, what made that $45 million expenditure so popular among House members?
The answer is that it isn’t going to happen. Like the first time the baby turns over in his or her crib, it’s darling, but it doesn’t mean that the baby is going to stand up and walk over to you.
The Senate just won’t pass that bill with that amendment, and the House knows it, and the poor devil who wanted his homemade airplane exempted from property taxes will have to come back another time.
There are House members who truly believe cutting local property taxes is the best use of state tax dollars. They get lost in the crowd of House members who think the state has better uses for your tax dollars, and counties ought to cut their spending to lower property taxes.
For many House members, call it a free vote for their campaigns. We can almost see their campaign brochures now: A snippet of the page torn from the official Journal of the House, maybe slanted a little to make it stand out, with the candidate’s “yes” vote highlighted in can’t-miss-it yellow.
Turns out just four House members voted no (five members weren’t present) on that campaign-assisting bill: state Reps. Randy Garber, R-Sabetha, Amanda Grosserode, R-Lenexa, Craig McPherson, R-Overland Park, and Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza. They won’t have to blush when asked why that tax relief didn’t happen.
Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his Web site at www.hawvernews.com