Are Americans ready to support tax hikes to increase education funding?
- As some recent polls indicate a ground-swell of support for striking teachers and the need for higher teacher pay, some Democratic politicians are campaigning on the premise that taxes should increased to provide more funding for education, Education Week reports.
- Republicans and business leaders in some states are fiercely opposing the idea because they say taxes are already too high, schools need to spend money more efficiently and tax increases will negate the progress that has been made in the economy.
- However, Democrats in states including Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, and Maryland are promising to raise taxes by a variety of methods including raising corporate and income taxes, raising taxes on cigarettes, and legalizing and taxing marijuana. Other states, including Utah and Hawaii, have questions on the ballot about raising taxes for education.
This election year is proving to be a fascinating one in terms of impacts on education funding. After a decade of austerity measures, most states are still not funding schools at pre-recession levels. According to a 2017 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 29 states were still spending less per pupil in 2015 (the latest data available) than they were in 2008.
Add to this the recent impacts of teacher strikes and the indication in some polls that public support for higher teacher pay and higher taxes is increasing, and some Democrats are seeing this as a prime time to campaign for higher taxes for education. Some are even promoting the controversial method of legalizing and taxing marijuana as a way to fulfill campaign promises as Colorado, California and several other states have already done.
Opponents of tax increases, especially on corporations, say such measures could cause the ever-improving, but still fragile economy to collapse, sending states back into the nightmare of a decade ago. It will be interesting to see what the voters truly think on election day. But, whatever the outcome, the fact that education spending is a focus in this election cycle is likely to have a positive impact on decisions in state legislatures for the next few years.