Regarding the revision of the state’s tax system. Please, legislators, before you reduce the income tax any more, before you raise sales taxes, do a few things.
First, update the amount of money a family can deduct for living expenses and dependents. The income tax was never supposed to tax the most basic costs of living.
Second, find out how much money it would take to correct the decades of insufficient public education funding to make sure conditions are improved such that good teachers are attracted to the state and are willing to stay in the profession more than a few years.
This would include improving compensation to the point that a teacher could afford to support a family in our state, not at a high level, but at least to the point that the teacher could afford a basic family home. And it is OK to expect the teacher to hold a part-time or summer job in the process.
And make sure class sizes and other poor classroom conditions are improved. Pre-K funding might even be in that assessment. This needs to be done not just for teachers; it is for the public education students in the state.
After you have done these two things, see if there is any money left in the education fund from income tax to share with higher education, and if so, how much. And make sure higher ed funding doesn’t negatively affect regular public ed funding.
Once you have done that, and you have set the rules for how the education fund can be spent, I doubt there will be a surplus.
Also, raising sales taxes and reducing the income tax benefits only the more well-to-do in our state, and places more burden on those who are already struggling to survive financially. But lowering the income tax would make it easier for better-off parents to afford private schools for their children. It seems like this “cut the income tax” stuff is just another one of those “follow the money” things.
Fred Ash, Sandy