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Monday, April 20, 2009

Raise My Taxes, Please!

State taxes and federal taxes are different. For one thing, the federal government can choose to deficit spend and raise taxes once the economy is humming again. The bigger difference, however, is that state taxes support uncontroversial programs that we desperately need. Maybe you think the feds should not support the National Endowment for the Arts or Strategic Missile Defense. But does anyone think we should not fund our schools, our roads, or our police? In the last week, I have heard my mother come home talking about teachers at her school losing their jobs. I have learned that the court system will move even more slowly as a result of budget cuts. And I have learned that the state can no longer respond to certain categories of reported child abuse because our coffers are empty.

April is child abuse prevention month, which makes this last item particularly worthy of attention today. Not only have the reductions caused us to investigate fewer reports of abuse, reunification programs and parent education programs have been gutted. Maybe President Obama should continue to hold off rolling back the Bush tax cuts, but at the state level, raise my taxes, please.

5 comments:

Matt Dick said...

I would like to extend your call and ask that the portion of my taxes which go toward education no longer be put toward local schools, but instead be spread around the state. We don't have equal schools as long as poor kids go to poor schools and rich kids go to rich schools.

JimII said...

Right on.

Mike L said...

Jim, ever think about making donations to the state agency or program of your choice? Encouraging your friends to do the same through grass roots efforts and your own charming advocacy? Why wait for a tax increase if an infusion of funds is so despearately needed? Take action! And Matt, do you know that you can make donations to the public school(s) of your choice for certain programs? You can even get a tax credit, which is equivalent to making your very own appropriation of tax money to that school. If you want money to go to M&O you can still make a donation.

JimII said...

Mike,

Welcome to the discussion.

You asked, "Why wait for a tax increase if an infusion of funds is so despearately needed?"

Of course, like many people I do donate money to support the causes that are important to me, including the State of Arizona through the tax credits you mention. There is no reason to assume from my call for higher taxes that I don't. (BTW, Matt wasn't actually calling for more taxes but for a more equal distribution. Unequal distribution is something that the tax credit program in Arizona actually makes worse.)

Voluntary pledges from the public at large, however, will not provide the stability necessary to address the state's needs. I suspect you know that, and are really just opposed to higher taxes rather than seriously believing we should switch over to the public radio business plan for the state budget.

In these difficult economic times we need to come together. The shortfall in Arizona, and other states, has been caused by people losing their jobs, or taking pay cuts, or losing their homes. Those of us who still are lucky enough to be employed and keeping our heads above water need to contribute more for the common good. And while some people will be voluntarily generous, many people will fall victim to their short sighted greed, which is why the state should raise taxes rather than wait for pennies from heaven.

Matt Dick said...

I certainly could give to public schools. The problem, as Jim mentioned briefly, is that the government is doing something that is exactly what it wasn't supposed to do: let me fund my kids' school and let poor people support their own kids' school.

A public school system is supposed to make education equal across the state. Currently there are kids who go to schools 12 miles from my kids' school who can't get enough money for chalk, let alone the smart boards my kids get to use.

It's more than incompetent or badly managed, it's institutional inequality. It's wrong, but there is no way I can get myself elected to political office on the promise to take money away from rich schools.