Jan Brewer Vetoes New Tax Break for Religious Groups

Categories: I'm Only a Bill
az-old-capitol-hendley.jpg
Matthew Hendley


Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy that would have created new property-tax exemptions for religious groups.

Legislative budget analysts predicted the bill could have cost the state an additional $2.1 million starting in 2016.

See also:
-Center for Arizona Policy Hates Gays, Abortions, and Likes to Tell Politicians What to Do

While religious organizations already have property-tax exemptions, House Bill 2281 would have also exempted educational, religious, or charitable organizations from property taxes if they were leasing property to a religious group that used the property "primarily for religious worship."

If the property was owned by any other private party, and they rented to a religious group using it "primarily for religious worship," their property tax assessment ratio would have been lowered from 18.5 percent to just 1 percent, the lowest level allowed under current law.

The Secular Coalition for Arizona, which had a lobbyist fighting this bill the entire time, pointed out to its supporters that this legislation could help a group like the Faithful Word Baptist Church earn a tax break. (Under the law, the property owner would supposedly pass on the savings to the tenant.) For those unfamiliar with the Faithful Word Baptist Church, the church's pastor believes the government should be putting homosexuals to death, and he has prayed for President Obama's death.

County property records show the whole commercial complex where Faithful Word is located, near 48th Street and Southern Avenue in Tempe, is currently assessed at the full 18.5 percent. Under this bill, that would have been lowered to 1 percent, for that part of the property.

Since local property taxes help pay for the public-education system, and the state has to cover the cost when property taxes aren't enough under the funding formula, the legislative budget staff estimates this legislation could cost the state as much as $2.1 million starting in 2016.

"This bill would shift the tax burden to property owners not affected by this legislation and/or result in property tax losses for local governments," according to a budget analyst's report.

In Brewer's veto letter, she pointed out several concerns:
"First, since lease rates are based on market dynamics, there is no guarantee that the property owners will pass this benefit on to their tenants, despite a provision in the bill that attempts to accomplish this. Second, we know from experience the administrative challenges assessors deal with to accurately classify residential rental properties. Similarly, this legislation would have significantly compounded these challenges by requiring the tracking of commercial property usage, as well as leasing categories for the anticipated religious purposes. Third, unlike the information available on the known quantity of charter schools [which receive a similar tax reduction], there is insufficient data to determine the size of the tax shift to homeowners and businesses that would have occurred as a result of this legislation."
This is now the second Center for Arizona Policy-backed bill Brewer has vetoed this session, the other of course being SB 1062. Brewer has signed one CAP-backed policy bill, HB 2284, which allows for warrantless searches of abortion clinics.

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27 comments
Jerry Young
Jerry Young

Are you getting the attention of your elected representative? No! Why? Because it takes more than you and a few others. Regardless of the issue, several hundred may get their attention at a small local town council, maybe several thousand for a state representatives but it will take a minimum of several million to get their attention in Washington. We need to stay proactive, keep writing and share this call for others to become reactive...and don't forget to vote!

Jay Anderson
Jay Anderson

I'm starting to like her... It's a shame it's right before she's leaving.

Robin Denise
Robin Denise

Thank you TWICE in one day to Governor Brewer !! Common sense prevails!!

Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider

The scary part is that this legislation is getting passed by both chambers. Get it together, Arizona. The entire country is laughing at us.

Timothy D Little
Timothy D Little

Ill take what I can get. thank gosh. don't they get enough tax breaks/

66rock
66rock topcommenter

That bill regarding tax exempt/leasing properties would have been a bonanza for the Mormon church in this state.  It will be back at another time. 

shadeaux
shadeaux

Bet the Ayatollah Herrod sucked her panties up a couple of inches when she heard this report.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

Does it seem as if Brewer has become more rational since officially declaring that she's not going to try for another term?


Maybe she's listening to different advisers.


Original-American
Original-American

Cathi Herrod is at it again, attempting to deteriorate the quality of life in Arizona through her religious zealotry. That even Gov. Jan Brewer saw this.
Its apparent that Cathi Herrod's organization is doing more harm than good in this state via her religious extremism.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@66rock  

Actually, I doubt that it would have helped them much.  They generally own their property, not rent, don't they?


Warrior-X
Warrior-X

@valleynative She's listening to the right people. I don't mean right-wing wackjobs. But advisers with common sense. I bet Jan Brewer is regretful in wagging her finger in face of the POTUS too.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@valleynative  They changed the locks on the liquor cabinets and she hasn't found the new key hiding place yet....

Reggievv
Reggievv

There should be protestors in front of her office 24 hours a day.

66rock
66rock topcommenter

@valleynative @66rock    Only thing I know about is Mesa.  All those single family house surround the temple for blocks are owned by the church and leased out, same for blocks and blocks of businesses on Main St.

66rock
66rock topcommenter

@valleynative @66rock  Thnx for clarification then, I thought it was the other way, that's what I get for trying to speed read things.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@66rock @valleynative 


This bill wouldn't have addressed them.  It would have created a tax break for property rented by the church from somebody who normally wouldn't qualify for a tax break.

Like when a church rents property in a strip mall to hold services.


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