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When lawmakers solve one problem, they need to make sure they don't create another.

Some Missouri lawmakers are proposing what seems like an admirable solution for seniors on fixed incomes — eliminating their property taxes.

Who wouldn't like the idea? Senior property owners generally have worked much of their lives to support themselves and their families. They've achieved the American dream of homeownership. Over a period of decades, they've paid off their homes and they've contributed to the tax base.

Now retired, they're still having to pay for their property taxes on fixed incomes.

The problem is eliminating their property taxes would create a funding shortfall for things like libraries, public safety departments and — most of all — schools.

The tax exemptions reportedly could result in more than $33 million in lost revenue for the state by 2024. Local governments would lose even more, with the total reaching $400 million.

To qualify, the senior citizen, or their spouse, must be of age to be eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits and have fully paid off their home for at least two years. There are no stipulations regarding someone's socio-economic status attached to the bill, Missouri News Network reported.

The Missouri News Network, under the Missouri School of Journalism, reported the resolution to nix seniors' property taxes is sponsored by Rep. Bill Kidd, R-Buckner. He has said he has spoken to constituents who have lost their homes because their property tax payments were higher than their house payments.

But, to our knowledge, the funding shortfall hasn't been addressed.

Would there be an alternative method of funding the entities whose budgets would be cut? Would school districts and other entities be expected to provide the same services with less funding?

We don't think there's an easy answer. Public education provided by schools and libraries benefits all of society. Slashing their funding especially could adversely affect rural areas.

For these reasons, we urge lawmakers to reject the proposal.

News Tribune

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