Framing the Dialogue

Be Wary

Famed economist Adam Smith wrote about “the invisible hand” and how government should keep as far a possible from the economy.  Government has a really hard time keeping out of the economy.  God save us from tinkering elected officials.

To that end, Pennsylvania lawmakers are making noise again to “eliminate” school property taxes.  This is a favorite topic amongst politicians as they work hard to take your money…and spend it the way they think is best.  We Pennsylvanians pay steep school property taxes.  Many folks like us chose our home based, not on avoiding school taxes, but on the high quality of our local schools.  We accept those taxes even now that our children have long ago graduated from our local schools.

So the Republicans in PA are leading the charge to reform taxes.  The rallying cry is to protect citizens strangled by high property taxes.  Lots of folks love to hear about eliminating taxes.  Here’s how I see it though:

  1.  Schools take money.  Elimination of one tax leads to another tax.
  2.  The new taxes will be:
    •  Personal income taxes will increase by over 60% thus punishing those of us who still are working.  Couple this with the lower deductible limits on federal taxes for local tax payments, this is a double whammy for those of us who live in high tax states.
    •  Sales taxes will go up by 1% (that’s to 8% for those of us who live in higher taxed counties).
  3.  Instead of local school districts collecting taxes base on community desires, that money will all go to state coffers.
  4. School districts will now have to beg state governments for their money.  Three guesses how that will work out for suburban school districts (and your first two don’t count).
  5.  What do you think will happen to the value of each dollar when it now has to pass through state government before local schools get the money?  Hint…your dollar will likely shrink.
  6.  Failing schools will take up a greater share as they no longer will have to try to do better.  School budgets will be based on “fairness” and underperforming schools will just continue to bleed money.
  7. Teachers’ unions will have a much better say in distribution of dollars while continuing to make it harder to unload poor teachers.

I foresee local schools being taken over by state or county governments and being less effective.  That’s sad for our children…not my children as mine are all out of college.  I seem to be reflecting a lot lately and telling younger folks that I am really happy that I am not their age.

As my wife and I rapidly approach retirement, we know that we no longer want to live in Pennsylvania.  Sad, as I grew up here.  High taxes, cold weather, and lack of sunshine are driving us south.

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