Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Proposition 204 is a Permanent Tax Increase that Does not Help Education

Proposition 204 – the so-called Quality Education and Jobs Initiative – calls for a permanent one-cent increase in the state sales tax rate to fund education and a host of other spending that has nothing to do with education or jobs.
The initiative is a bold exploitation of a temporary sales tax rate increase approved in 2010 to combat the state’s fiscal challenges at a time of national economic downturn. Now the proponents of Proposition 204 want the same tax cast in stone to fund education and a host of other programs at a rate of $1 billion a year.
The Proposition takes the spending of the annual $1 billion in tax receipts away from the governor and state legislators. All spending will be out of reach of the taxpayers and the elected representatives they chose to spend their money.
The Proposition calls for an array of earmarks that include education spending for K-12, community colleges, universities, adult education and scholarships. Much of the spending sidesteps students and teachers in the classroom and funds the state’s education bureaucracy.
But the proposition also funds programs unrelated to education. These include health and human services, road building and the environment. Such programs should be separate spending items considered by the state legislature along with the education spending at the heart of the initiative.
The permanent the tax increase not only funds programs outside the purview of the legislature; it also robs the peoples’ elected representatives of any leeway in making spending decisions to meet future state needs. 
The economy fluctuates widely from year to year; the state’s spending priorities shift as well. Education is always a spending priority, but it should not be funded by a permanent tax outside the reach of representatives elected to spend the peoples’ money.

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