Officials Urge NLC to Push for Tax Reform on All Levels

Article excerpt

Two NLC committees are encouraging the NLC Board of Directors to raise its profile in pressing for serious tax reform at the federal, state and local levels.

The action came during a joint meeting between members of the Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) steering committee and the CityFutures Panel on Public Finance in Cambridge, Mass.

During the June 15-17 meeting--after hearing from experts on the impact of tax reform and how it will affect local government operations--the officials concluded that NLC should be in the lead on these issues, having a seat at the table with the decision makers.

"Cities must be at the forefront of any discussions on tax reform," said Mike Kasperzak, council member from Mountain View, Calif., and chair of the FAIR committee. "We have unique insights and perspectives on taxing and revenue systems and our input will add great value to the deliberations."

Determining that this should be one of the leading issues that local governments focus on over the coming years, the members pushed NLC to prioritize its tax policy and develop a common message in order to take a proactive role in the discussions being held at the federal level. The suggested priorities include keeping the deductibility of state and local income taxes, ensuring that municipal bonds remain tax-flee and changing the Alternative Minimum Tax, which will encompass many more middle income Americans.

Members also pushed for NLC to explore the local impacts of broader overhauls of the tax system, including a potential move to a national Value Added Tax or national sales tax.

Members began to develop strategies to be more proactive that included working with the other state and local government associations to find common ground to advocate for these common issues. They also stressed the importance of working with state municipal leagues throughout the country and leading responsible discussions about the need for reform in their own cities.

Brian Murphy, councilor from Cambridge and chair of the Public Finance Panel, hosted the meeting of the two NLC committees. Murphy commented that, "Fostering a national discussion about the need for tax reform has to, in part, have a grassroots focus that we as city officials start in our hometowns. …