Monday, February 26, 2007

New Hampshire Schools Have A Spending Problem Not A Funding Problem.

Schools across America have a spending problem not a funding problem. The February 26th editorial by the Concord Monitor staff is misleading readers. They believe this will somehow solve the "funding" problems with our schools. The fact is schools have a spending problem. A state wide property tax for schools should have solved the problem in years past but because schools constantly overspend revenues and spend over the rate of inflation we are now faced with getting an income tax rammed down our throats. The education establishment is more concerned about their entitlement programs than they are with actually accepting accountability for educating our children and spending money wisely.

In the editorial below they are suggesting an income tax. This will only create further spending without accountability which will lead to further income tax increases in the future unless spending controls are put in place. How do we know. We come from Illinois. In 1969 our first income taxes were in-acted at a rate of 2.5% In 1983 income taxes were increased 17% to 3.5%. They are now trying to increase income taxes to 5%. All this with no guarantee of spending controls. Illinois also has property taxes greater than New Hampshire and sales taxes. If New Hampshire schools get the money they will try to find a way to spend the money.

The proposed changes are about greed and not need.

Facts the education establishment fails to tell legislators and voters. Although New Hampshire is 49th when it comes to funding or tax revenues from the state as of 2003 they are 20th on per pupil spending. This is because we fund schools with property taxes and some "local control" as opposed to state income taxes.

We must stop the spending spree proposed that will just lead to further waste, corruption and patronage as we see in other states and at the federal level.

The following editorial is from the Concord Monitor staff.

Income tax should pay for education only

Monitor staff

During an interview on NHPR's Exchange last week, Warren Rudman suggested that if New Hampshire ever passed an income tax, it should do so only if it also passed a constitutional amendment requiring that all revenue from an income tax be used to pay for public schools.
Rudman said this in the context of a discussion of the Claremont case. The former U.S. senator said he hoped the Legislature was moving toward defining an adequate education. He opposed constitutional amendments challenging the court's role in the case.

We have shadow-boxed over the particulars of a state income tax through the regimes of umpteen pledge-bound governors. Our first thought on hearing Rudman's idea was that it was a bold one. You know, Rudman being Rudman. As a public servant, he often spoke his mind regardless of the party line. He could be fearless on issues in a way that today's politicians seldom are.

But, of course, Rudman's notion isn't new (not that he said it was). And if he meant an amendment restricting the use of income tax revenue to be a condition for passing the tax, the condition could be deadly rather than enabling.

The fear behind Rudman's suggestion is real enough. If New Hampshire instituted an income tax to pay for public schools, wouldn't legislators and governors be tempted to use income tax revenue for other purposes? You bet.

A constitutional amendment would tie their hands.
But there is a potential chicken-and-egg problem with this idea.

Say, a year or so from now, the Legislature has defined an adequate education and computed its cost. Say that cost is so great that, despite a gubernatorial veto threat, the Legislature turns to an income tax to pay for public schools. But the Legislature will pass the bill only on condition that the state constitution be amended to ensure that the tax revenue is dedicated to public education alone.

Under these circumstances, the vote on the amendment would become a referendum on the income tax.

In the highly unlikely case that 60 percent of the Legislature approved it, it would require a two-thirds majority from voters. It would never achieve these super-majorities, because a vote for the amendment would be a vote for the income tax.

There is a way such an amendment could work.

Pass the income tax without condition, meaning the income tax would take effect whether the amendment passed or not. Then consider the amendment on its own merits. Then it would almost certainly pass.

But there is an even easier way for the Legislature to protect taxpayers from willy-nilly expansion of the income tax's uses. This is through the legislation itself. The Legislature could stipulate that income tax revenue be used only to pay for public schools and only on a formula approved by the Legislature.

Rudman was right when he implied to NHPR listeners that other states have failed to limit their income taxes to a specific use or uses. But that does not mean it cannot be done. As long as the legislation creating the tax were not contingent on passage of an amendment restricting its use to public schools, such an amendment would be acceptable and probably even desirable.

Such considerations are not idle. Once the Legislature defines "adequate," it will have to figure out how to pay for "adequate." A state income tax should be part of the discussion.

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