TAX SHIFT AHEAD – EXIT NOW!
Lawmakers are in session in Jackson. Local school districts, property owners, superintendents and supervisors beware! The legislature is trying to lay the groundwork to raise your local taxes by shifting the responsibility of K-12 public school funding down to your counties and cities. How will that happen? Less school funding from Jackson, and higher school funding from the local districts, which will have to be locally voted on every single year. That way, your local officials will have to either raise your taxes or watch the schools fail. Of course, this is nothing but an effort to deflect blame in the next election cycle that legislators have once again underfunded the schools of our 490,000 children, ensuring that our best resource for attracting jobs is forever broken.
This is not law – yet. No, it is merely a set of “recommendations” from the super-secret study done by a New Jersey consulting company, EdBuild. Having listened to every word, and read the whole 79-page sales brochure, I know enough to be scared, very scared. There is a popular question from a bestseller: “What is your one thing?” If these recommendations could talk and tell the truth, their one thing would be: Shift taxes to local taxpayers so we cannot be blamed.
The 79 pages can be boiled down to seven simple and devastating points:
1. Your local taxes will increase (“tax shift”)
2. Your car tags will increase (“tax shift”)
3. The State will send less money to your local school districts than it is sending now (“deflect”)
4. Your state taxes will not decrease;
5. Poor and rural districts will take money from wealthier districts, but still not enough to survive (hmmm, sounds like 42-A threats);
6. Classroom sized will be increased, and there will be fewer teachers; and,
7. Assigning specific dollars to specific students is the first step toward vouchers and full charter schools.
The biggest sign that the whole “plan” is suspect came when the CEO deflected a question during the presentation. Remember, this young company was hired to re-calculate the entire $2 Billion education spending. The question was simple: Will this new formula, if adopted, mean more or less money than our schools are currently receiving? She simply responded: “I’m not good with math.”
Now, we all know the real answer to that: Grab your wallets and prepare for your local taxes to go through the roof – with no relief from the budget mess in Jackson. Be prepared to share your views on this tax shift before the legislature has its way with your local property taxes. Otherwise, this will pass in the darkness of night.
Jay Hughes is a Mississippi State Representative from District 12 – Lafayette County.