Senator Tisei offers statewide property tax relief proposal

Calls for casino money to be returned to homeowners, businesses

July, 2010

BOSTON – Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei has called for the creation of a new Property Taxpayers Relief Fund that would use casino revenues to annually reduce property tax bills across the Commonwealth. Tisei filed the proposal as an amendment to the Senate’s casino legislation, which is scheduled to be debated beginning on Wednesday.

Under Tisei’s proposal, the revenues generated through the licensing and taxing of casinos would be deposited in the new fund, and the state would use this money to issue an annual rebate check to homeowners and business owners to offset their local property tax bills. The amount of the rebate would vary from year to year, and would be determined based on the amount of revenues generated for the fund during the preceding fiscal year.

“Four years ago, Governor Patrick campaigned on a promise to end the ‘fiscal shell game’ of high property taxes in Massachusetts,” said Tisei. “But that promise was never kept, and property taxes continue to pose a major financial burden for residents. This is a chance for the Legislature to do what Governor Patrick has failed to do, which is to provide meaningful tax relief for the state’s homeowners and business owners.”

When Governor Patrick assumed office in 2007, the average property tax bill for a single family residence in Massachusetts was $3,962. Last year, the average property tax bill jumped to $4,250, representing a 7.1 percent increase.

Statewide, property taxes accounted for $10.489 billion in municipal revenues in 2007, but generated $11.553 billion last year, according to figures compiled by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. That represents an increase of 9.2 percent since Patrick took office.

“The state has put local communities into an impossible situation,” said Tisei. “Governor Patrick has cut local aid every year he has been in office, and without a workable health care plan design option to control costs, cities and towns have been forced to rely more and more on property taxes to pay for basic municipal services and operating expenses.

“Governor Patrick dropped the ball four years ago with his empty promises to the state’s taxpayers,” he added. “My proposal gives the Legislature the opportunity to provide the long-overdue relief Massachusetts residents have been waiting for since 2006