Al Novstrup didn’t get the $39-million property tax increase he wanted, but he did vote to raise property tax on farmers.
Check out Senate Bill 35, the hotly contested school funding bill. The Legislature decreases property tax levies each year based on the increase in land values to prevent property taxes from increasing too quickly. According to Joint Appropriations, total agricultural land valuation for K-12 state aid rose 11.71%, while commercial land valuation rose 6.99% and residential land valuation rose 6.81%. Mathematically, the ag levy should decrease the most to offset having the highest valuation growth. But SB 35 decreases the ag levy by only 3.9% while decreasing the commercial and residential levies 8.5%.
SB 35 thus appears to shift the burden for funding K-12 education a little bit more to the shoulders of ag land owners.
But extra percentage points kept on the ag levy aren’t going to K-12. It’s going to SDSU. Check out Senate Bill 172, the bill authorizing construction of the State Animal Research and Diagnostic Laboratory. Along with an increase in the inspection fee on small-package pet food (good thing my dog eats the 50-pounders!), SB 172 diverts that extra ag levy to paying the new lab’s bonds and operations:
The state general fund savings obtained through the state aid to education formula from the difference between the school general fund levy for agriculture property for taxes payable in 2018 pursuant to §§ 13-13-71, 13-13-72, and 13-13-72.1 and the agriculture property levy adopted by legislative action for taxes payable in 2018, shall be directed to the state animal disease research and diagnostic laboratory bond redemption and operations fund. Pursuant to this section, the savings amount dedicated to the state animal disease research and diagnostic laboratory bond redemption and operations fund in fiscal year 2018 shall be one million six hundred fifteen thousand dollars. In fiscal year 2019 and each year thereafter, the savings amount dedicated from the general fund to the state animal disease research and diagnostic laboratory bond redemption and operations fund shall be three million three hundred fifty thousand dollars [2017 Senate Bill 172, conference committee version, approved by Senate and House 2017.03.09].
$1.615 million this coming fiscal year, $3.35 million next and ongoing. That’s how much more in property taxes farmers will pay thanks to Al Novstrup’s ayes on SB 35 and SB 172.