Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Financing District Schools

School funding through property taxes is not just a disaster waiting to happen, it is happening! Witness Tues. night's budget discussion in Middletown focusing on the school budget. And you could just as easily substitue any town/city in the district (or in the state) for Middletown. While I missed this one, I've been witness to many others in the past. People are angry and I don't blame them!.

The way our system of funding is set up pits various segments of the population against each other. Senior citizens particularly feel the pinch of property tax increases while saying that they receive little in benefits from the town. While this is true (for many segments, actually), they do not connect benefits from the State & Fed'l government (which we all pay for) that are directed primarily towards them. That's because we still think of property taxes as LOCAL rather than another state tax which they are. The State Legislature has managed quite sucessfully to separate themselves from school budgets (although passing along plenty of mandates) and come out smelling like roses. I have never seen a state legislator at a local budget hearing.
Finally the legislature is realizing that this is THEIR responsibility which they've been managing to pass along to our to local governments like a hot potato. Sen. Teresa Paiva-Weed gets it & is sponsoring legislation, " JOINT RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO EXAMINE ALL ASPECTS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING AND ITS IMPACT UPON STATE AND LOCAL FINANCES AND TAXATION" that proposes to tackle this problem head on. For some reason the press hasn't picked up on it. It passed the Senate, now on to the House.

Hail Teresa!!!! It's frequently forgotten that when the State passed its property tax cap, it also promised fund 60% of the schools' budgets. Never happened. And the fed'l gov't does not get off lightly here. Their monies spent on education (8% tops) is pitiful!!
It's time to stop pointing fingers and find a way to fund ALL of our schools fairly so that ALL of our students receive a good, quality education. Education has always been a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy and we ALL benefit from a well-educated population.

No comments: