How the tax raise increase game works

Please read the following guest post from Larry Koch, special contributor on for the Center of Education Excellence at the Caesar Rodney Institute.

One of the reasons I retired from educational administration from a rural Maine school district was a cynical method to increase taxes that a number of my colleagues engaged in. This is how it worked:

1)        The town, usually fed up by double digit increases, would demand that the district lowered expenses by let’s say 2%. This should not have been a difficult task to do in a multi-million dollar budget.

2)        After a number of hearings (to show that they tried) the Superintendent would come out with a proposal that would cut sports, after school programming, AP classes and special education.

3)        The constituency groups for all of these programs would show up, howling for their children, at every board and town meeting, until-far too often- the proposed cut was dropped, and often a tax increase was agreed to.

The reason this scenario was so cynical was that it had been choreographed in advance, and concerned parents were manipulated into doing something that was destructive to the community, and ended up with farms being closed and people defaulting on their taxes. Education was not advanced, and the bureaucracy was engorged. School officials could have surgically applied cuts so essential and popular programs were saved, but they chose not to do so! Yes, they would have been criticized by somebody, but that is why they got those inflated salaries; to show some leadership!

Instead they turned the most active consumers of public education, the parents, in effect against the most economically vulnerable people in the community, seniors and struggling family farmers, in a conflict that leaves the community weaker and in no way improves learning. 

That is basically the scenario for the sequester debate. Our 16 trillion dollar government with some imagination should be able to absorb a cut of 2%. Instead, the administration plans on across the board cuts, highlighting the effects it will have on schools, the disabled, transportation, etc.,. The government, if it showed some leadership, could identify areas where little damage would result from reducing expenses, but refuses to do so, unless taxes are raised. This is a cynical- after the fact – grab for more money; the sequester legislation never mentioned a tax increase, but Obama would never allow an opportunity for this to pass without notice. Sequester would allow the president and departments to fine tune their cuts, as long as it came up to the required amount, but they have chosen not to do that without a tax increase.

Just like that school district, Washington’s continuing, insatiable demands for endless growth is demanding to be fed, and a cynical method has been employed to achieve that end. This was bad enough when it was done locally by petty school administrators- but now Washington has taken a leaf from their book! How pathetic!

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