The Legislature has ended a popular program to help seniors remain in their homes

The Republican initiated Senior Property Tax Stabilization Program was eliminated after only one year 

This is Rep. Donny Ardell of Monticello with the weekly Republican address. Many people have heard by now, but senior property tax bills will continue to rise starting next year over the objections of House Republicans.

The most recent budget passed by Democrats eliminates the popular Property Tax Stabilization program, a program that allowed certain senior residents to stabilize, or freeze, the property taxes on their homestead at the previous year’s billed amount. This means as long as an eligible senior applied each year, their property taxes would not go up.

The program’s elimination means there is no reapplication process, and accepted applications freezing current 2023 tax property taxes remain in effect only for this year.

The millions of dollars that would have reimbursed municipalities for freezing seniors’ taxes, will supposedly be used to expand existing relief programs like the Property Tax Fairness Credit, an income dependent tax credit program administered by the state.

Critics of the tax freeze program have said changes were needed – and Republicans agreed. That’s why House Republicans introduced and supported bills to fix loopholes and technical issues. We agree that a person from Greenfield shouldn’t be able to move to an Ocean Front property in Cape Elizabeth or Freeport and continue to pay their old tax bill.

That and other issues with the popular program could, and should, have been fixed this past session.

Opting for wholesale repeal of the tax freeze was the wrong approach. One that could have significant effects statewide – including places like Scarborough, where 1,850 applicants had their property taxes frozen, but income limitations mean many (including those seniors still working) might not qualify for the new credit.

House Republicans wanted to improve a bipartisan relief program that would not only save seniors thousands, but also provide a level of financial certainty in times of sky high inflation, and help provide a check on municipal spending growth.

Unfortunately, Democrats didn’t. One of the dozens of provisions shoehorned into their budget ended the property tax freeze.

This is one of many reasons myself and other House Republicans chose NOT to support the latest Democrat spending bill, and one that helps illustrates the painful reality of single-party rule in Augusta.

This has been Rep. Donny Ardell with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

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