Mayoral candidate and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham toured the Liberty City Distillery in Kensington yesterday and introduced a jobs plan that calls for investments in training and infrastructure and voluntary payments by businesses to fund business and wage tax reductions.
“We need new people, new thinkers to come here and populate our city,” Abraham said. “I’m going to be the mayor who’ll say, ‘Welcome to the city. We are going to be business friendly. We’re going to make sure you have all the tools available to grow.'”
Abraham didn’t say how much her administration could commit to job training or infrastructure improvements, but she said they would be a priority.
She endorsed an idea others also proposed: increasing real estate taxes on commercial properties to fund reductions in more economically harmful taxes.
An obstacle to that proposal is the uniformity clause of the state constitution, which appears to prohibit taxing commercial and residential properties at different rates. Abraham said changing the constitution is too lengthy a process, since it would require approval in two successive sessions of the state legislature and approval by voters in a referendum.
Instead, she offered the idea of getting businesses to voluntarily pay more on their real estate valuations.
“My sense from speaking to several businessmen, at least initially, is that they would be willing to consider — not enact, but consider — a plan whereby the next mayor would say, ‘We want you to pay more taxes on commercial real estate so that we can cut other taxes,'” Abraham said.
She said such a plan couldn’t rely on action by City Council, since that would be a tax which triggers the constitutional problem.
“They [would] voluntarily give a check to the city treasury in exchange for a dedicated source of funding for two important purposes,” Abraham said, “lowering certain business taxes and lowering wage taxes to attract more businesses and more workers.”