Time to discuss public education funding, not “gang up on lawmakers””

I found the Daily Local News 10/5/14 editorial, “Homeowners, time to gang up on lawmakers,” very perplexing. (You can find the original version online in the Pottstown Mercury, 10/3/14.)

I actually favor state funding for public education, because I think it’s fairer than the current reliance on property taxes, but the details have to be considered carefully, and this editorial does not help at all. It doesn’t even mention that it is talking only about school taxes, not municipal and county property taxes.

“Property tax reform” has a nice ring to it but basically means transferring the financing of public education from local property owners to other types of tax.

As authorized by Senate Bill 76, does the editorial writer favor increasing state sales taxes from 6% to 7% and broadening the goods and services taxed (possibly including online sales)?

How about the proposed increase in state income tax from 3.07% to 4.34%?

And should school districts be able to levy personal income tax or earned income tax for new construction?

How would the proceeds be divided among school districts? If current district funding is locked in as the basis for future budgets, would that perpetuate the current unfairness?

How do we know that an across-the-board inflation-calibrated increase will meet students’ needs?

How would districts with growing or shrinking school populations be affected?

Could state funding become contingent on adopting certain state-approved policies and procedures?

Would the measure help public schools or further disadvantage them against charter and private schools?

Would funding in wealthier areas like Chester County be less than what the local population wishes to pay?

Would businesses and renters gain or lose from the shift in taxes?

Should revenue from any future natural gas extraction tax feed into public school funding?

I can understand that, considering a far-reaching bill, many PA legislators want to wait till next year to finish dealing with such questions, which the editorial writer does not discuss.

Instead, the editorial complains about attention given to issues like same sex marriage and legalization of marijuana. But there is a difference. Those are issues of human rights and freedoms, which should concern us all, not just those affected most directly. But I have not heard about any right not to pay property tax.

What particularly surprises me is the remark “Did you hear more about any other single issue [than same-sex marriage] in 2014?” It seems to me we’ve heard quite a lot about terrorism, Iraq and Syria, and ebola lately.

But oddly, the editorial does not seem to accept that the Daily Local chooses what to put in its pages. In the 10/5/14 issue, the main headline is “Beloved pig shot at animal sanctuary.” It could have been “Public school financing off Harrisburg agenda.” But it wasn’t.

About politicswestchesterview

Nathaniel regards himself as a progressive Democrat who sees a serious need to involve more Americans in the political process if we are to rise to Ben Franklin's challenge "A republic, madam, if you can keep it," after a passerby asked him what form of government the founders had chosen. This blog gives my views and background information on the local, state, and national political scenes. My career in higher education was mainly in the areas of international studies, foreign languages, and student advising, most recently at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, from which I retired in 2006. I have lived in West Chester since 1986.
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