An open letter responding to the “Governor’s Speech” from Illinois:
I categorically disagree with most of your plan to increase education revenue during the current crisis; especially your decision to cut property taxes, to increase individual income tax, and to institute a pension tax. These measures will significantly hurt lower income families, whose children already enter the education system in an equity deficit, and your measures will not provide the $7 billion you estimate (Schilling & Tomal, 2013, pp. 30-31). Your other ideas of taxing corporations and consumer service industries, depending upon which industries you mean, may not work, either. The affected community, if it does not support your idea, will ensure it does not work.
Cutting Property Taxes Instead of increasing them with a Bond or Levy
The public education system receives a significant portion of its support from property taxes, including businesses within a school tax base, and cutting those taxes provides a tax cut to the tax payers, who can MOST afford to support the education system. We can creatively distribute that tax funding similar to funding in Texas to ensure the funds are used equitably for all stakeholders across the state rather than overfunding some districts and underfunding others (Schilling & Tomal, 2013, p. 20). All stakeholders in society bare a responsibility to support public education because we all benefit from its product: adequately educated citizens. If the state and local governments remove property taxes—a responsibility paid toward the school—then the government is also de facto removing the moral obligation of schools to provide adequate education, returning that obligation to the private sector. Furthermore, impoverished families, who don’t own property, will have their income and service taxes raised to offset these lost revenue sources—which is not morally appropriate or even sustainable.
Increasing Income Tax
Increasing income taxes on corporations usually results in layoffs, which significantly hurt lower-middle class families. “The idea is to put the least burden on the fewest people without disadvantaging any specific group,” especially those in poverty (Ikpa, 2016, p. 471). These families already struggle to meet their financial expectations and spend quality time with their children, who usually have educational deficits as a result. More of these families will find themselves in poverty as an immediate consequence of increases in corporate income taxes. So the increase in funds will not actually help educational facilities in any way, as we find our impoverished stakeholders increased in a direct correlation, and an immediate need to spend that money to alleviate their needs in school.
Instituting Pension Tax
Instituting a tax on pensions will hurt retired pensioners, many of whom are the caregivers and guardians of their grandchildren, and taxing their limited income will once again only hurt already impoverished students. Taxing pensioners will also be one more deterrent from young graduates considering trades and careers with pensions, increasing shortages in those careers (Mulvahill, 2018). One such career is teaching. Taxing pensions in a field where a shortage is at such a critical crisis will not help improve the overall problem, even while it will all half a million dollars into the revenue stream. When half a million teachers leave and we spend 2million on recruiting, that half a million will actually have been part of a 1.5 million total loss.
As mentioned earlier, any taxation added to corporations in this economy will result in layoffs. These layoffs will directly result in an increase of lower economic student demographics—so a direct increase in student failure. Poverty directly results in student failure (Della Sala & Knoeppel, 2015, p. 12). So taxing corporations to fund schools will not actually fix education in the long run until taxing corporations and penalizing them for passing their profiteering onto their employees go hand in hand. Profiteering is what has to be fixed before taxing corporations will ever fix anything in America.
Taxing Service Industries
No, sir, taxing luxuries, especially service industries, might actually work, because it doesn’t unfairly tax the poor. If you want to put a 50% tax on boats, then you are only going to tax boaters. If you want to put a 10% tax on marijuana, then you are only going to tax pot smokers. However, if your community refuses to support your measures, hates the increases, votes you out of office, and then calls for a special measure to vote the tax change down, they will win. You have to know your voters and what they care about—if they don’t support the increase on the luxury, then it won’t stand in your community of voters, whether it’s reasonable or not—so you can’t lower property taxes.
Conclusion: Protect Your Clients and Know Your Community
More important than any of the points I’ve made is my advice to know your clients, sir. Most children in education today are impoverished, so worrying about their parents’ taxes is laughable. Their parents get earned income credits and make less than $20,000 a year. You are far removed from the reality of MOST parents involved in public education, who don’t own property, and if you cut taxes in the community, who WANT to educate the children growing up around them so they don’t wind up in prison, you will ENSURE they wind up in another cycle of poverty and a lack of education (Della Sala & Knoeppel, 2015, p. 12). You increase their risk of incarceration, which costs over twice as much as an appropriate public education. I would love for you to solve corporate greed for our nation so we COULD rely upon corporate taxes for once, but you haven’t. They will pass the buck to anyone but themselves. They are the pirates of the 21st Century, and until we invent our modern version of the Royal Navy to check their avarice, you’d better ask ANY administrator if your ideas would help a real school or just increase its number of students in poverty almost overnight. Administrators are desperate for more funding, but not if it hurts the children we serve every day, and your plan would certainly do that. You can add fairly well; I hope you can listen, too.