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Corbett’s Tax Pledge Costs the Rest of Us

Governor promised not to raise taxes but that means everyone else has to.

In 2014, Gov. Tom Corbett will no doubt campaign that he honored his pledge not to raise taxes during his first term. So far, that’s true -- he just made it so everyone else had to raise them.

The screams of anguish and gnashing of teeth you might have heard this spring were school boards throughout the Commonwealth cutting teachers and programs and raising taxes to fill budget gaps. School boards have had to face property owners complaining about another tax increase in a weak economy, plus parents and students angry over program cuts and teacher layoffs. 

Remember, school board members are unpaid, and this year it’s got to feel like they volunteered to be crossing guards on I-78.  

Mind you, Corbett inherited a boatload of tough choices with the state’s budget shortfall of $4.1 billion; some economic pain was inevitable from the Great Recession. But he boxed himself in by pledging during the election not to raise taxes.

Corbett, using outdated figures, recently claimed that districts like Parkland with healthy fund balances should use them to avoid raising taxes.

But districts are depleting their fund balances. Parkland, Easton Area, Allentown and Southern Lehigh are among the Lehigh Valley school districts that are using such money to close budget gaps. The East Penn School Board has had a over whether the district is keeping too much in budgetary reserves.

Besides, it’s good fiscal stewardship for districts to have a reserve to pay for the coming tsunami of public school employee pension costs. Otherwise, how likely is it that the voters will approve 10-15 percent tax hikes when the biggest pension bills come due?

Even with my property taxes increasing both from a school tax hike and next year with Lehigh County’s reassessment, I see school taxes as a bargain.   

If my husband and I had to pay the full freight to send our two kids to school, it would cost us upwards of $22,000 a year, which would eat up a huge chunk of our income. Instead, I look at it as if the cost of paying for school was amortized over our adult lives in the form of school taxes.

But if Corbett and the state Legislature would raise the state income tax for education, that makes more sense than increasing property taxes because property taxes hurt so many seniors who are on fixed incomes but still in their homes. 

So what about the people who have no children or whose kids go to private schools? Well, if you can’t think of public education of all children as a public good, then at least think of your property values. Few things bring down property values faster than troubled schools.

The bigger picture is that my kids and everyone else’s are going to be the workforce that contributes to our Social Security and Medicare.

They will build our bridges and roads, fix our cars, fill our prescriptions, cure our diseases, invent the next big thing, entertain us, protect us and govern us.

Education is their ladder; let’s not hobble it.    

Liberalism is a mental disorder June 06, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Pay is based on supply and demand in every other area of the economy. There are TONS of extra teachers in PA. The supply is MASSIVE. If you could put an ad in the paper and pay a teacher what they would be willing to take in the market (like everybody else), gym teachers would make $25,000 a year. Getting a teaching degree is EASSSSYYYYY. Every kid who can't figure out what they want to do just shuffles off to Millersville or Kutztown and gets an easy teaching certificate. And Masters degrees for teachers are a JOKE. They are FAR EASIER to get as compared to an MBA, or MS in science or engineering or accounting. Let's quit pretending that teachers are geniuses. Any average HS graduate with 1000 on the SAT's (old two part SAT) can become any type of teacher he/she wants. AND ONCE AN FOR ALL, lets stop this joke where we call them "professionals" and compare them to doctors and lawyers. Only 1% of teachers would have a shot at getting into medical school or law school. Probably not even 1%.
Rosemary B June 06, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Good teachers might deserve $100,000 a yr to start, but that does not mean that it is possible to pay them that. We have to live in the realm of reality. Reality is there is only so much money and only so much you can tax people here in Pa. And reality is that there is a HUGE supply of teachers, Those two realities dictate that maybe teachers should be getting less.
careless fills June 06, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Maybe not 100,000 to start. But I'd get the truely great up there fairly quickly with 10-20% increases. Unfortunately the union contracts don't allow that, and they don't allow you to limit the increases for the below average to hekp counsel them to leave.
Liberalism is a mental disorder June 08, 2012 at 04:09 PM
So tell us specifically what you want to cut. Specifically.
Rosemary B June 08, 2012 at 07:47 PM
And those are some of the reasons why union contracts do not work. They treat all workers as if they are worth the same. No incentive to try harder than the next person. Breeds mediocrity.

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