North Dakotans Decide to Keep Property Tax
Opponents said move would force hike in other taxes
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2012 8:14 AM CDT
Voters cast ballots in a North Dakota election in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Darren Gibbins)

(Newser) – Dumping their controversial "Fighting Sioux" nickname wasn't the only point of contention North Dakotans decided last night: Voters overwhelmingly, to the tune of 76% against, voted down a ballot measure that would have made it the first state in the nation to abolish its property tax, the New York Times reports. Advocates of the measure collected thousands of signatures to get it on the ballot, but they ran smack into a powerful coalition of business leaders and public workers who argued that the move would cost $812 million, forcing a hike in other taxes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

While most states are raiding the couch cushions for spare change, North Dakota is enjoying a more than $1 billion budget surplus, thanks in large part to an oil boom that's filled state coffers and driven down unemployment, notes CNN. Some states, finding themselves with an alternate cash cow, have eliminated income tax, but many North Dakotans worried that killing the property tax would eventually jeopardize school and infrastructure funding. Still, lawmakers say they get the outrage over inconsistencies in property tax exemptions, and plan to reform the law.