2005 Regular Session
To: Constitution; Ways and Means
By: Representative Capps, Moore
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION PROPOSING TO AMEND THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION OF 1890 BY CREATING A NEW SECTION 272B TO BE ENTITLED THE "TAXPAYER'S BILL OF RIGHTS"; TO LIMIT REVENUE GROWTH FOR THE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS; TO REQUIRE ANY TAX INCREASE IN STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO BE APPROVED BY THE VOTERS OF THE AFFECTED GOVERNMENT; TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF REVENUE THAT THE STATE MAY RETAIN IN A YEAR TO THE PREVIOUS YEAR'S ALLOWED COLLECTIONS PLUS AN ADJUSTMENT EQUAL TO THE PERCENTAGE GROWTH IN POPULATION INCREASED BY INFLATION; TO PROVIDE THAT ANY REVENUES IN EXCESS OF THE LIMIT MUST BE REFUNDED TO THE VOTERS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That the following amendment to the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 is proposed to the qualified electors of the state:
Amend the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 by creating a new Section 272B to read as follows:
"Section 272B. (1) This section shall be known and may be cited as the "Taxpayer's Bill of Rights."
(2) This section shall take effect and be in force beginning on the first day of the first full fiscal year of a district following the date this section becomes a part of the Constitution. This section shall be interpreted to reasonably restrain most of the growth of government. All provisions are self-executing and severable and supersede conflicting state constitutional, state statutory, charter or other state or local provisions. Other limits on district revenue, spending and debt may be weakened only by future voter approval. Judicial enforcement actions may be filed and shall have the highest civil priority of resolution. Successful plaintiffs are allowed costs and reasonable attorney fees, but a district is not unless an action against it is ruled frivolous. Revenue collected, kept or spent illegally since four (4) full fiscal years before an action is filed shall be refunded with ten percent (10%) annual simple interest from the initial conduct. Subject to judicial review, districts may use any reasonable method for refunds under this section, including temporary tax credits or rate reductions. Refunds need not be proportional when prior payments are impractical to identify or return. When annual district revenue is less than annual payments on general obligation bonds and final court judgments, the provisions of subsections (4)(a) and (7) of this section shall be suspended to provide for the deficiency.
(3) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this subsection:
(a) "Ballot issue" means a referred measure in an election.
(b) "District" means the state or any local government, excluding enterprises.
(c) "Emergency" excludes economic conditions, revenue shortfalls or district salary or fringe benefit increases.
(d) "Enterprise" means a government-owned business authorized to issue its own revenue bonds and receiving under ten percent (10%) of annual revenue in grants from all state and local governments combined.
(e) "Fiscal year spending" means all district expenditures and reserve increases except, as to both, those for refunds made in the current or next fiscal year or those from gifts, federal funds collections for another government, retirement contributions by employees and retirement fund earnings, reserve transfers or expenditures, damage awards or property sales.
(f) "Inflation" means the percentage change in the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.
(g) "Local growth" for a nonschool district means a net percentage change in actual value of all real property in a district from construction of taxable real property improvements, minus destruction of similar improvements, and additions to, minus deletions from, taxable real property. For a school district, it means the percentage change in its student enrollment.
(4) (a) Ballot issues shall be decided in a state general election, a local district general election, or on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years. Except for petitions, bonded debt or charter or constitutional provisions, districts may consolidate ballot issues and voters may approve a delay of up to four (4) years in voting on ballot issues. District actions taken during such a delay shall not extend beyond that period.
(b) At least thirty (30) days before a ballot issue election, districts shall mail at the least cost, and as a package where districts with ballot issues overlap, a titled notice or set of notices addressed to "All Registered Voters" at each address of one or more active registered electors. Titles shall have this order of preference: "NOTICE OF ELECTION TO INCREASE TAXES/TO INCREASE DEBT/ON A REFERRED MEASURE." Except for district voter-approved additions, notices shall include only:
(i) The election date, hours, ballot title, text and local election office address and telephone number.
(ii) For proposed district tax or bonded debt increases, the estimated or actual total of district fiscal year spending for the current year and each of the past four (4) years and the overall percentage and dollar change.
(iii) For the first full fiscal year of each proposed district tax increase, district estimates of the maximum dollar amount of each increase and of district fiscal year spending without the increase.
(iv) For proposed district bonded debt, its principal amount and maximum annual and total district repayment cost, and the principal balance of total current district bonded debt and its maximum annual and remaining total district repayment cost.
(v) Two (2) summaries, up to five hundred (500) words each, one (1) for and one (1) against the proposal, of written comments filed with the election officer by forty-five (45) days before the election. No summary shall mention names of persons or private groups, nor any endorsements of or resolutions against the proposal. Petition representatives following these rules shall write this summary for their petition. The election officer shall maintain and accurately summarize all other relevant written comments. The provisions of this subparagraph (v) do not apply to a statewide ballot issue, which is subject to the provisions of Section 273 of this Constitution.
(c) Except by later voter approval, if a tax increase or fiscal year spending exceeds any estimate in paragraph (b)(iii) of this subsection for the same fiscal year, the tax increase is thereafter reduced up to one hundred percent (100%) in proportion to the combined dollar excess, and the combined excess revenue refunded in the next fiscal year. District bonded debt shall not issue on terms that could exceed its share of its maximum repayment costs in paragraph (b)(iv) of this subsection. Ballot titles for tax or bonded debt increases shall begin, "SHALL (DISTRICT) TAXES BE INCREASED (first, or if phased in, final, full fiscal year dollar increase) ANNUALLY...?" or "SHALL (DISTRICT) DEBT BE INCREASED (principal amount), WITH A REPAYMENT COST OF (maximum total district cost),...?"
(5) Districts must have voter approval in advance for:
(a) Unless subsection (2) or (7) of this section applies, any new tax, tax rate increase, mill levy above that for the prior year, valuation for assessment ratio increase for a property class, or extension of an expiring tax or a tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain to any district.
(b) Except for refinancing district bonded debt at a lower interest rate or adding new employees to existing district retirement plans, creation of any multiple-fiscal year direct or indirect district debt or other financial obligation whatsoever without adequate present cash reserves pledged irrevocably and held for payments in all future fiscal years.
(6) To use for declared emergencies only, each district shall reserve for the fiscal year beginning in 2007 one percent (1%) or more, for the fiscal year beginning in 2008 two percent (2%) or more, and for all later years three percent (3%) or more of its fiscal year spending excluding bonded debt service. Unused reserves apply to the next year's reserve.
(7) This subsection grants no new taxing power. Emergency property taxes are prohibited. Emergency tax revenue is excluded for purposes of subsections (4)(c) and (8) of this section, even if later ratified by voters. Emergency taxes shall also meet all of the following conditions:
(a) A two-thirds (2/3) majority of the members of each house of the Legislature or of a local district board declares the emergency and imposes the tax by separate recorded roll call votes.
(b) Emergency tax revenue shall be spent only after emergency reserves are depleted, and shall be refunded within one hundred eighty (180) days after the emergency ends if not spent on the emergency.
(c) A tax not approved on the next election date sixty (60) days or more after the declaration shall end with that election month.
(8) (a) The maximum annual percentage change in state fiscal year spending equals inflation plus the percentage change in state population in the prior calendar year, adjusted for revenue changes approved by voters after 2006. Population shall be determined by annual federal census estimates and such number shall be adjusted every decade to match the federal census.
(b) The maximum annual percentage change in each local district's fiscal year spending equals inflation in the prior calendar year plus annual local growth, adjusted for revenue changes approved by voters after 2006 and reductions under subsection (10) of this section.
(c) The maximum annual percentage change in each district's property tax revenue equals inflation in the prior calendar year plus annual local growth, adjusted for property tax revenue changes approved by voters after 2006 and reductions under subsection (10) of this section.
(d) If revenue from sources not excluded from fiscal year spending exceeds these limits in dollars for that fiscal year, the excess shall be refunded in the next fiscal year unless voters approve a revenue change as an offset. Initial district bases are current fiscal year spending and 2006 property tax collected in 2007. Qualification or disqualification as an enterprise shall change district bases and future year limits. Future creation of district bonded debt shall increase, and retiring or refinancing district bonded debt shall lower, fiscal year spending and property tax revenue by the annual debt service so funded. Debt service changes, reductions, subsections (1) and (3)(c) refunds, and voter-approved revenue changes are dollar amounts that are exceptions to, and not part of, any district base. Voter-approved revenue changes do not require a tax rate change.
(9) (a) New or increased transfer tax rates on real property are prohibited. No new state real property tax or local district income tax shall be imposed. Neither an income tax rate increase nor a new state definition of taxable income shall apply before the next tax year. Any income tax law change after July 1, 2007, shall also require all taxable net income to be taxed at one (1) rate, excluding refund tax credits or voter-approved tax credits, with no added tax or surcharge.
(b) Regardless of reassessment frequency, valuation notices shall be mailed annually and may be appealed annually, with no presumption in favor of any pending valuation. Past or future sales by a lender or government shall also be considered as comparable market sales and their sales prices kept as public records. Actual value shall be stated on all property tax bills and valuation notices and, for residential real property, determined solely by the market approach to appraisal.
(10) Except for public education through Grade 12 or as required of a local district by federal law, a local district may reduce or end its subsidy to any program delegated to it by the Legislature for administration. For current programs, the state may require ninety (90) days notice and that the adjustment occur in a maximum of three (3) equal annual installments."
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this proposed amendment shall be submitted by the Secretary of State to the qualified electors at an election to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November 2005, as provided by Section 273 of the Constitution and by general law.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the explanation of this proposed amendment for the ballot shall read as follows: "This proposed constitutional amendment entitled the "Taxpayer's Bill of Rights," limits revenue growth for the state and local governments and requires any tax increase in state or local government to be approved by the voters. The amendment also limits revenue the state may retain to the previous year's collections plus an adjustment equal to the percentage growth in population increased by inflation. Any revenues in excess of this limit must be refunded to the voters."
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi shall submit this resolution, immediately upon adoption by the Legislature, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.