Another tax-slashing initiative petition is drafted and ready to be circulated, but a leader of the Tax Limitation Coalition said the group has decided to see first what the 1989 Legislature accomplishes.
Like the most debated of the coalition's three failed tax initiatives, the "Tax Reform Act" would set limits on residential and commercial property tax rates and government growth.The property tax limits would be 1 percent for residential and 1.25 percent for commercial property - one-quarter percent higher than would have been established by the failed initiative.
The act would also restore the full state income tax deduction for federal taxes paid, reduce the sales tax by a half-cent and establish a taxpayers' "Bill of Rights."
Beyond the sales tax reduction, the act doesn't mention rolling back 1987 tax increases or giving parents of children in private schools a tax break, which the other two failed initiatives would have done.
Work on the act began months ago, when there was still hope the initiatives would be approved. After their defeat, the coalition considered an immediate petition drive to qualify the act for an upcoming ballot.
Faced with differing opinions about what direction the tax limitation movement should take, the coalition set aside the petition drive in favor of pushing for reform in the Legislature.
Some close to the movement say supporters of removing the sales tax on food -including coalition chairman Greg Beesley - are causing a split in the group that is affecting its ability to make decisions.
Mills Crenshaw, a radio talk-show host who helped found the coalition and is on its board of directors, dismissed the idea of dissension. He acknowledged, however, that some members have different priorities.
But, Crenshaw said, the lack of agreement on which tax reduction should be tackled first is not unique to the coalition.
"There are disagreements among legislators, the people in the governor's office and in the Tax Limitation Coalition," he said. "Everybody thinks they have their finger on the public pulse."
Crenshaw and others in the coalition are counting on a survey undertaken by Merrill Cook, who unsuccessfully ran for governor at their urging, to help identify what is of most concern to the public.
Coalition leaders brought along a copy of the proposed act when they met recently with lawmakers. Although Crenshaw said they would not be held to making the specific changes outlined, some type of tax reductions are expected.
"These are not non-negotiable demands," he said of the provisions of the act. Crenshaw said the increase in the property tax limits over the failed initiative indicated the coalition was open to compromise.
Rep. Nolan Karras, R-Roy, who will become Speaker of the House in January, said the new petition appears more reasonable on the surface.
Karras said it is up to lawmakers to offset a future tax initiative drive. "If we handle the session properly, they won't get the momentum they need," he said.