Howard Sasson: Strong school system worth the investment
To the editor:
I find it curious that Councilor Gene Tacy “spontaneously” took the opportunity at a recent City Council meeting to attack Pam Schwartz for allegedly celebrating increasing taxes. Could it be that Tacy’s election campaign has already started?
I think most people agree this community needs to have a strong public educational system that provides equal educational opportunities for all the city’s residents. Schools are supposed to be America’s engine of social mobility. Smaller classes sizes and programs in art and music should not be available only to those who can afford to go to private schools or have the wherewithal to send their kids to charter schools.
We are increasingly a society of haves and have-nots and the growing inequality in the educational system is a contributing factor. In the so-called new economy all of our children are going to be in trouble unless we can provide them with high quality, relevant and affordable educations. In fact, I can’t think of a better use for my tax money. I certainly would rather see my taxes go to education than to supporting uncontrolled military spending.
I think most people in this community would also agree that the over-reliance on regressive property taxes to fund public education is unfair.
The situation has only gotten worse because of cuts in state aid over the last five years. As a community, are we really willing to have the discussion about how to fairly tax people according to their ability to pay?
A more equitable system would be a graduated income tax, which is now prohibited by the state constitution. While many people pay lip service to the goal of a fairer tax system, every time the graduated income tax has comes up for a vote in the past, it has been roundly defeated as “anti-business.”
We also need to examine the laws exempting educational and religious institutions from real estate taxes.
None of this would be simple or easy, but it makes a lot more sense than attacking people for having the audacity to demand a good life for our community’s children.