Already Weakening the Rhetoric
… David Anderson, the Republican challenging House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, in Providence, said he would consider higher income and sales taxes if that is what was required to reduce local property taxes, and shift more of the responsibility for financing the state’s public schools to state taxpayers.
“Especially in my district, the [property tax] is very unpopular because Brown University and other nonprofits don’t pay anything for the services they get for their properties. I would fund education at the state level … We may have to have higher state-level taxes, income and sales taxes, but I would not change the tax structure in such a way as to raise overall taxes.”
By pushing the tax burden toward the state, you decrease the voters’ proximity to the levers of power, making reform movements less likely. By centralizing education financing (and therefore control), you give more leverage to entrenched forces, like the unions.
The challenge right now is waking up and educating Rhode Island’s citizens. Creating a buffer and moving to tax to less visible forms — property tax is unique in that people know the total amount for the year, whereas withholding, refunds, etc. muddy the income tax, and nobody knows what they pay in sales tax — will allow the powers who be to perpetuate their habits.