Sunday, November 18, 2007

State Funding of Edcuation - Bad Idea

Governor Daniel’s plan to have the State fund public education is a huge mistake. The plan is to reduce property taxes and allow local community taxing authority. In so doing the state would fund our public schools. Why is this a bad idea?

Let me first begin by telling a story of a Boy Scout who was on a trip to the Outer Boundary Waters located on the US/Canadian Border. The trip cost was about $300 plus out of pocket expenses. The scout was responsible for all meals on the way to and from the debarkation area. The troop stopped for the night and went out to eat. The scout was thrifty and chose a cheese sandwich meal, it was the cheapest. His reasoning was he wanted to buy a souvenir of a trip in a lifetime. Other scouts ordered steak dinners and ice cream sodas. When the waitress came around with the bill, she asked if it was one bill or separate. The scouts looked around and said one bill and divided the total among everyone equally. The scout who ordered the cheese sandwich meal was horrified. His bill went from just under $4 to over $10.

The next meal the thrifty scout thinking they would split the meal bill equally ordered more than he would have in order to get what he thought was “his share.” However, this time the meals were not split evenly, but were separate orders. Again the thrifty scout paid more than he had budgeted for his meal. In the end the thrifty scout barely had enough money to pay for his meals up and back and none for a souvenir.

I tell this true life story because it is relevant to everyday life. What you do with your own money is up to you. Others should not affect your life to the point where their values over ride your own.

How does this affect us? We have Fort Wayne Community Schools, East, Southwest, and Northwest Allen County Schools. One has done a very poor job of maintaining their building over the past thirty to forty years; thus the tax rate actually paid was lower than what it should have been. The other three school systems budgeted maintenance and in so doing set a tax rate sufficiently higher to pay for this. Now with a stroke of a pen, those who paid higher property taxes to maintain their schools could easily end up paying even higher taxes, though not property taxes, to now fund on an equal footing the school system that failed in their fiduciary responsibility.

Property taxes are mandated by the Indiana Constitution as the means for local areas for funding. However, the Indiana Constitution does not state what the tax rate must be. The rate is left up to the local government. If the local government does not spend money, the tax rate is zero. If the taxing authorities go out on a spending spree, the tax rate will be high. The property tax rate is calculated by dividing the budget by the total assessed value of the properties. The higher the assessed total properties the lower the tax rates.

Our local property tax problem is one that is government made, yet many think it is the property tax itself that is the culprit and bad. Older homes were not reassessed on a regular basis nor was there a consistent method for doing so. The property taxes on these homes ended up being lower than the tax should have been. Those who bought homes or built new homes ended up paying a higher percentage of the property taxes solely because their properties were assessed a higher amount relative to older homes. Had all properties been assessed using the same method, then everyone, those in older homes and newer homes would be paying a property tax that was fair.

Now the government says they have a solution to the property tax mess they created in the first place. That solution is to let them both tax us and determine at the state level what we spend on OUR local schools. So those who maintained their schools and funded them properly could easily end up subsidizing those who were negligent in the past.

I am against funding schools at the state level. I want those I elect to be held accountable. Those who live in the Fort Wayne Community School System recently had a remonstrative to defeat spending $500 million on their dilapidated schools. At the state level who would you contact to fight this?

The federal government started out with very small control over people’s lives. Over the years they have assumed more and more of a role in what we the people do. In so doing, they federal government spends more and we have less control. The local budget should remain local and not be dependent on the state.


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