Monday, January 23, 2017

Education Equality vs Cuts in Spending

A very interesting editorial in Sunday's Concord Monitor along with a letter to the editor from Rep. Norm Silber of Gilford.
Silber's letter was promoting his legislation to repeal the 5 percent tax on interest and dividend income ( NH House Bill 440) which he claims is " only about 4.06 percent of the total state unrestricted revenues" and be replaced by " offset by cuts in spending in state government programs."

According to Transparent NH, " unrestricted revenues are those sources of funds for use by the General and Education Trust funds."  "Interest and Dividends tax is imposed at 5.0% of income received from interest and dividends. In order to be subject to the tax, individuals must have at least $2,400 of interest and dividend income and joint filers must have at least $4,800." NH RSA 77 that authorizes the I&D tax has been on the books for a very long time.
The 2017 estimate for the I&D tax is 4.15% or $96 million dollars. That is a significant offset to be reconciled in the state budget by cuts in spending.  

The editorial is related to this issue because it speaks to the growing inequity in NH in terms of education funding, and mentions Moultonboro specifically as a low tax property rich town. It also highlights Claremont, one of the five municipalities that brought suit that created donor towns in the first place. Claremont  has a property tax rate of $42.64, with 60% of that going to fund public education. 
The writer emphasized that " additional state or federal money should not come at the expense of struggling public schools and beleaguered local property taxpayers. In fact, the debate over charter school funding should be considered a sideshow. The main event, as it has been for more than four decades, remains the governor and Legislature’s failure to fund public education in a fair, equitable and adequate way." 
It also mentions that at least 50 schools in NH  need replacement or significant refurbishment, but the state school board was only able to assist with just one last year. 
This is yet another example wherein ideology is trumping, ( maybe a small pun intended) what is actually in the best interest of the people of New Hampshire. Taking even more money out of public schools while  at the same time, people are being taxed out of their homes is not good public policy.
It is immoral. 
 If  we receive additional revenue from Washington under the new administration, it should go to increasing funding for those towns that desperately need a property tax break to support the already existing public schools. Public schools are the main event. 
Who will the elimination of the I&D tax benefit? Certainly not young and struggling families.
Lastly, what programs will be cut Rep. Silber to mitigate a nearly $100 million dollar budget hole your bill would create?  Would it help make NH more family friendly, create jobs and provide property tax relief? The answer is clearly a resounding no. 

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