Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's Wrong with Commissioner Fong's Presentation?

Some may think it's a little presumptuous of us to ask elected officials, especially Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, to stop lying. What's wrong with what Mr. Fong is saying? Well, judge for yourself. Here is the power-point presentation that Mr. Fong is giving to groups around the state:
Impact of Property Taxes

And here's the Tax Commissioner's 2010 Overview of Taxes:
ND Red Book

You'll need to place these two reports side by side. When Mr. Fong's presentation says there are three sources of revenue for the state (three-legged stool) look at page 2 of the Red Book. How many revenue sources are listed there?

Mr. Fong also gives 2010 numbers for those taxes. Do those numbers match up with what's in the Red Book? Well, they're kind of close, so maybe there are some tricky accounting things he uses that would explain those differences. Or maybe they are typos. But the number he gives for the 2010 Property Taxes are clearly NOT 2010 taxes.

Look at Page 90 of the Red Book and you'll see how the numbers simply don't match up. In fact, Mr. Fong is off by over 20%. Then using inflated PT numbers Mr. Fong says that PT makes up 37% of state revenues. And using those inflated numbers Mr. Fong says that sales tax will have to be doubled and income tax will go up 279%.

Mr. Fong says that school funding (which is where 45% of the PT goes) will be replaced by oil revenues. I'm not sure why he assumes this will happen, but well, OK. Let's say oil revenues do indeed fund K-12. So why, then, do sales taxes need to double if half of the PT expenses are being paid for by oil revenues?

Remember that Mr. Fong is only the tax commissioner. He does not decide tax policy. there is reason to assume that these taxes will need to be increased as a result of eliminating PT. The Legislature could decide to cut out the pork. They could decide to take more from gaming or lottery taxes, coal or liquor taxes. They could decide to fund the whole thing with oil revenues--heaven knows there's more than enough! There is simply no justification for Mr. Fong to assert that these taxes WILL go up.

From top to bottom Mr. Fong's presentation is filled with error and assumptions that are a shame to someone who is supposed to report facts and usable information to the voters of this state. We are asking him, along with all elected officials, to contribute to the debate with reliable, honest information, not scare tactics and misinformation.

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