City and State Budget Solutions: Give Away Land? Give Away Free Flights?

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To plug budget gaps, local authorities are opting for what seems like a counterproductive route: They’re giving stuff away. Some of the freebies are supposed to entice newcomers who will be sources of tax revenues to move in, while other freebies would entire “undesirables” to leave and never come back.

Beatrice, a small city of about 12,000 south of Lincoln, Nebraska, is going the nicer route to attract new residents (and their tax dollars), according to the NY Times. Like a throwback to the pioneer days, Beatrice is one of several municipalities that are so desperate to bring in new blood—with the hopes that newcomers will fill up empty lots and chip in with property taxes—that they’re giving away land:

Around the nation, cities and towns facing grim budget circumstances are grasping at unlikely — some would say desperate — means to bolster their shrunken tax bases. Like Beatrice, places like Dayton, Ohio, and Grafton, Ill., are giving away land for nominal fees or for nothing in the hope that it will boost the tax rolls and cut the lawn-mowing bills.

Giving away land, I suppose, is no crazier than the budget-trimming decision to buy some goats to keep town meadows mowed. Goats don’t pay property taxes, though, the freeloading bums.

Meanwhile, Hawaii, where the homeless population has increased by 15% in a year (on Oahu at least), is considering giving away one-way plane tickets to homeless people. A few Hawaii legislators want to create a $100,000 fund that could be used to pay to send the homeless back to the mainland and let some other state deal with them:

Proponents say the program would cost far less money than what is spent on food stamps and welfare payments. They weigh a $300 one-way ticket to the West Coast against what they say is a $35,000 per year cost for each person with services. But, some acknowledge, the scheme could also create problems.

Hawaii’s homeless would become another state’s problem. It might also provide an incentive for more homeless to travel to Hawaii if they knew they’d get a free ride home.

Psst! Hawaiian homeless people: Ask for a flight to Nebraska. They’re giving away land for free!