This post is paid advertising by Doc Clements for the 101st.
No question school taxes are outrageous! The unfortunate fact is they are going to increase with each given year. We’ve heard the all too familiar reasons why: teachers are overpaid; administration is overpaid; money is wasted on programs like art, music and sports. In reality, school finances are just like your household expenses, they are getting more expensive. I graduated from veterinary medical school thirty-five years ago with $44K of debt. Graduating veterinarians today have $280K of debt.
Educating our children is imperative if Pennsylvania and America are to remain competitive in world markets. In 1990, America ranked fifth in the world with respect to education. Today, we rank twenty-seventh. Many factors contribute to the issue, but the failure to financially support education is a major factor. Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in education pays the best interest.”
I attended the Palmyra Area School Board Zoom meeting this past Wednesday evening. The major topic of community interest was the proposed 3.3% school tax increase. Casey Long, the Chair of Lebanon County Republican Party, was a major contributor. Casey spent the majority of his time hastening the board to forgo the tax increase, especially in this COVID crisis. His involvement in these meetings and policy prescriptions have drawn criticism, as some people, including former Palmyra Area School Board Member Kurt Koennecke, see his comments as pushing special interests.
I ran for school board in 1992 during another contentious economic time. School taxes were also at the center of the debate. I hold the same opinion now as I held then, funding schools on the backs of property owners is repressive to the economic development of the county and the state. I have been in states that don’t use property tax to fund schools, so I know it can be accomplished.
In the almost thirty years since that school board race, I have heard multiple politicians soft-mouth a desire to change the method of funding schools, but nothing has happened. Nothing until this past year, when Frank Ryan proposed his ill-conceived plan to transfer the burden of funding schools to Nana’s and Pop’s retirement income. Lordy, if school taxes are breaking the backs of property owners, then what will we expect it to do to a group of constituents that have little means of recovery? Are we dooming them to a cat-food diet?
The responsibility of educating our children belongs to all of us. Unfortunately, the funding has been assigned to property owners. I propose that we ask all taxpayers to share in the responsibility of funding education. I have devised a plan to accomplish that goal. I recommend a 4% Earned Income Tax in combination with a 0.5% increase in sales tax. Corporations should not be given a tax gift by deleting school taxes, so a corporate tax equivalent to school tax contribution rate should be enacted. You can see the entire plan at www.docclements.com.
Yes, Casey Long, school taxes are breaking our backs. I agree that no parents want to see services reduced, programs cut, or class sizes increased. I am returning almost thirty years later to say it is way past time to make a change in the method we fund education. My plan lets all Pennsylvanians invest in education and allows Nana and Pop to enjoy a happy retirement.
Do not cast me off in a time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is gone. (Psalm 71:9)
It’s time, time for new thinking.
Calvin “Doc” Clements is retired veterinarian running to represent Pennsylvania House District 101. He is running on a platform of responsible and practical government. Find out more at www.docclements.com
Editor’s Note: Upon the feedback of a reader, this press release was updated after initial publication to replace a statement that made a claim about another individual which did not have a direct source available as of Thursday afternoon.