Both revenue committees continued to probe for doable answers to public revenue reform, both in the corporate and property tax systems.

Informal briefings of caucuses by legislative revenue staff are opening the topics to legislators who do not serve on the money committees. Some members are having to consider seriously for the first time the prospect of an overhauled corporate tax system that is switched from income to value-added or gross receipts, but at a considerably lower tax rate.

The prospects for property tax reform remain encouraging if it is kept to incremental steps and includes a sweetener for voters, who must approve any measure. Should the Measure 5 rate limits of $5/$10 per thousand of real market value be raised slightly to relieve the losses to compression – $156 million total, of which $84 million is lost school funding? Should there be some adjustment to the arbitrary Measure 50 permanent rates, which cannot be changed irrespective of the inevitable occurrence from time to time of dramatic shifts in economic and cultural circumstances. For counties, the most obvious and present failure of this Measure 50 rigidity is the sweeping change in federal forest management policy, leaving low tax rate and federal land dependent counties holding an empty bag.

Discussions on both of these potentially profound reforms continue with AOC involvement. It will be finding the correct political answer that will pull the rabbit out of the hat.

Contributed by: Gil Riddell | AOC Public Land & Natural Resources Policy Manager