Education Budget Doubled Over 12 Years

An interesting thing happened yesterday up at the legislature. HB346: Gross Receipts Surtax Bill received a do pass:

As a reminder, this bill proposes the gross receipt tax rate (GRT) be increased by .5%. In addition the bill also proposes an increase in the personal income tax rate (PIT). The PIT would increase in tax year 2010 from 4.9 percent to 6 percent for married persons filing jointly with taxable income of at least $24,000 and for single persons with taxable income of at least $16,000. The additional revenue would be earmarked for public education.

That’s right this one bill raises not one, but two taxes – a double whammy. And, before you folks jump in and say it’s about time rich people invest in education, please review just who is getting hit with higher taxes right now.

The PIT is being raised on folks making $16,000 per year or more. That comes out to an hourly rate of less than $7.75. Of course, these same people are going to be hit with higher gross receipts taxes if this bill goes through. Talk about hitting people when they’re down.

But hey, it’s for the children, right? Yeah, think again. Let’s look at education spending over the last dozen years (subscription):

Among those speaking against the measures was Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

Cole said the proposed funding formula doesn’t contain enough accountability. She said the amount the state spends on public education has doubled over the past 12 years to $2.4 billion, yet the dropout rate remains high. She noted that the number of students has, for the most part, remained flat during that time.

Actually, Ms. Cole is being kind by only focusing on the dropout rate. Not only has dropout rate remained high during this period of huge infusions of capital, the actual performance of students overall has gotten worse:

More evidence was provided recently b the findings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the limited government-oriented national legislative umbrella organization based in Washington, DC.

That organization’s recent study, the 15th edition of their “Report Card on American Education,” shows that New Mexico’s K-12 government-run education system is not only behind other states, but is falling further behind as time passes. According to the New Mexico-specific pages of the study which can be found here, The Land of Enchantment has fallen from 43rd to 48th since 1998 in ALEC’s overall ranking. This, despite a more rapid increase in per-pupil spending than was found in other states (42% to 36.6%).

Of course, I left the best part for last. The rationale for introducing these increased regressive taxes on the poorest amongst us is to fund a new public school funding formula to help make up for a supposed underfunding for schools. The thing is that the new funding formula bill got tabled. This has spurred speculation that the new INCREASE YOUR TAXES BILL will be amended to remove the language to use the revenue for education and instead be used as a revenue generator the budget.

Yeah, that’s just what we need during a time of economic crisis – more taxes.

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