Not a Bad Idea, but Dumb

Yeah, well, while I’m not so sure that forcing hospitals to pay property taxes is such a good idea, RI Senator Harold Metts (D, Providence) has a point when it comes to universities:

“In 1989, it was estimated that 35 percent of the city’s taxable properties were owned by a few tax exempt institutions,” said Senator Metts. “That grew to 40 percent by 1997 and today’s estimates put the figure at around 48 percent or even higher. That means 100 percent of the property taxes are coming from 50 percent of the property owners, working-class homeowners. It’s not fair.”

Unfortunately, Metts seems to suffer from a common intellectual blindspot among those on the class-warfare Left:

“I am aware of the opposition this legislation will generate,” said Senator Metts. “I also firmly believe that not one tenured professor at Brown will suffer a pay cut if the school has to start paying taxes on the vast amount of property it owns. I firmly believe that not one executive at Rhode Island Hospital will suffer a pay cut if the hospital has to start paying its fair share to the city.”

Perhaps he’s right that not one tenured professor or hospital executive would suffer financially from the tax, but you could bet your bottom quintile that a significant number of low-to-midrange employees would find their jobs eliminated, and that clients, patients, and students across the socioeconomic spectrum would see their costs go up, with a bit of trickle-out inflation.
That said, I wholeheartedly endorse Metts’s plan as a first step in pushing delusional liberals toward their own epiphanies about the need for structural government reform in Rhode Island.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

Sen.Metts sometimes makes good sense unlike Segal,Handy and co.I don’t think taxing hospitals is such a good idea as health care costs are prohibitive as it is now.Hospitals serve the general public in any event and are not profit making institutions.
The universities are entirely another matter.They serve their students and faculty and contribute very little when the services they consume are taken into consideration.I am sick of ordinary homeowners(and renters by a trickle down process)having to shoulder an increasing property tax burden while an institution like Brown,which has enormous endowments and large property holdings,gives only a token amout to the city.The universities can be taxed-what are they going to do-move?They are like the Wizard of Oz-they need their bluff called hard.

chuckR
chuckR
13 years ago

The universities do make PILOT payments. Other cities manage without taxing colleges and universities. If this were enacted, RI would once again be at the forefront of novel ways to overtax. And why stop there? If you tax Brown, J&W, and RISD, why not tax Moses Brown, Wheeler, Lincoln, etc?
There is an answer for some of Providence’s problems. Its called reining in expenses. It has never been successfully tried.
PS – the state makes a disproportionate ‘PILOT’ type payment for school aid, so it ain’t that neither.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

I’m not holding my breath waiting for the usual suspects to come out in favor of this bid to end “corporate welfare” for universities and hospitals, ending the “loophole” by which they’re exempt from property taxes!

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

The way the clergy around here likes to try to shape public policy, maybe it’s high time to consider rescinding THEIR tax-free status as well.

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