Tax the wealthy to fund schools

Survey finds support for Brown’s budget plan
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Most Californians are worried that additional cuts to public schools will hurt the quality of education, but they don’t have much faith in the Legislature to solve the problem. A new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that a majority of adults and likely voters support Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal for a special election to vote on extending a temporary tax in order to close the $26 billion budget gap.  However, most oppose a hike in the state sales tax or in personal income taxes – unless it’s aimed at the state’s wealthiest residents.

Support for the governor’s proposal has climbed slightly since last month, with 56% of likely voters saying they favor a special election, up from 51% in March. But the numbers vary significantly when broken down by party. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats – 72% – back the special election, versus 53% of Independents and 38% of Republicans.

PPIC interviewed 2,504 adults between April 5 and 19, 2011. They’ve been conducting this survey for seven years.

Parents say school conditions are worsening

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed said the quality of education will suffer if schools are forced to make more cuts. Public school parents are especially concerned, with 74% warning that schools cannot absorb any more cuts. Half the parents said education has already gotten worse in the past few years; nearly twice as many as when they were asked that question in 2007.

That came as a bit of a surprise to Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, who said it indicates that the “state budget cuts have gone from being abstract to being noticeable to public school parents.” Specifically, parents are concerned about teacher layoffs, shortening the school year, eliminating art and music programs, and increasing class sizes.

Interestingly, most public school parents held positive views of their children’s schools. Half of them rated their schools with a B or better, a level that hasn’t changed in six years. However, there are deep differences by race and ethnicity. While a majority of Latinos, 59%, gave their kids’ schools a grade of B or A, 45% of Black parents said their schools only deserved a C.

Most people surveyed agreed that not all schools are equal. Sixty-five percent said they are “very concerned that students in lower-income areas have a shortage of good teachers compared to schools in wealthier areas,” and 79% said resources are not evenly distributed. In fact, two-thirds of the people interviewed said schools in lower-income communities should receive a larger share of money if more state funds become available.

Taxing the wealthy

A majority of voters wouldn’t mind if those funds came from additional taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents. Overall, 62% of likely voters would support raising the state income tax on the wealthy.

“That’s something we’ve consistently seen support for,” said Baldassare. “Most voters perceive what they’re being asked to pay in taxes is fair and reasonable, but wealthy people can afford to pay more.”

The support, however, is highly divided along party lines, with 82% of Democrats in favor of it and 60% of Republicans opposed.

The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) is already advocating for the tax hike, arguing that a 1% increase in the state tax rate on Californians earning $500,000 or more could raise $2.5 billion more for education. The cause has been taken up by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, who introduced AB 1130 in the Assembly earlier this year, although it’s as likely to pass as any other tax increase that requires Republican support.

Low marks for the legislature

The inability of state lawmakers to reach agreement on the budget has made them about as popular as Donald Trump would be at the President’s birthday party. Only 9% of likely voters approve of the way the legislature is handling public education.

Brown fares better, but only marginally. His job approval rating is at 40%; however, 31% are withholding judgment.

No wonder Californians don’t trust Sacramento to make decisions about school funding. When asked who should have the most control in deciding how state education funds are spent in public schools, a whopping 83% put their faith in local school districts.

“It’s always telling in terms of where people have their trust and confidence, and the flip side is where they don’t,” said Baldassare. “They don’t see a state government that is responsible and solutions-oriented right now.”

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21 Comments

  1. PS:  The ‘Rich’ or REAL Taxpayers are easily outnumbered by the ‘Tax Takers’ and Unionized Government Workers.  This is a recipe for failure!   Margeret Thatcher said it best:  “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”.  When you look at the Budget Crisis’s from the City of Los Angeles, to the County, State and even the Federal Government.

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  2. Plenty too right here boss!  We want the goodies, but we’d rather have someone else pay for them!  They’re rich, they can afford it….that seems to be the best reason these people can think of.  The idea that the rich wouldn’t want to pay for their goodies hasn’t occurred to them.

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  3. Why don’t we just start charging parents a nominal amount to send their kids to school? We charge users of other public services. Why is education so special that it’s free? Those who cannot pay can volunteer hours or do maintenance on site. I went to public K-8 and private high school with a work study scholarship — I gave up a week every summer to get $1000 off our tuition bill, which made a huge difference for my family.
    Everyone has something to give, yet the solutions time and again are to go after “the rich” — as if they are hostage to the good weather and cannot escape the state. Moreover, the problem with public education is that the any funding provided just doesn’t scale, because of the sheer number of students.
    I’m a parent and would gladly pay a few thousand dollars a year for GREAT schools; I think a reasonable request would be $500 for 1 child, $800 for 2, etc. In fact, some educational foundations have requested similar amounts.
    PEOPLE DO NOT VALUE WHAT IS FREE. Start charging a little bit and watch parents pay more attention to student performance.

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  4. Increasing the sales or personal income of the wealthiest Californian’s, in my opinion, is tinkering around the edges.  We need a long term plan to determine what our priorities really are and create a sustainable way (read: a fair, understandable and sensible) to fund those priorities. My two cents!

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  5. Every wealthy person in America gained their wealth via physical and digital infrastructures that were built by working-class folks.   The rich should return a significant portion of their wealth to our state and nation in the form of taxes because their fortunes were made possible by the efforts of the working class.  There are no self-made men in America and anyone who thinks they got rich without the support of others is self-deceiving.  It’s time to stop whining about this.  Wealth comes with responsibilities.  To the wealthy I say, “Buck up and pay your share”.
    I am absolutely certain that my nearly 30 years in the classroom has done more to elevate this nation than the self-enriching activities of many wealthy people.  However, I chose a long time ago to help children learn instead of devoting my considerable intelligence to selfish wealth-building.  It is difficult to muster respect for those who don’t recognize the social obligations that come with wealth.  To suggest that the rich are over-taxed is either naive or dishonest.

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  6. I agree with John Leyba 100% – a thought I’ve frequently had myself.  Why can’t we develop some sort of hybrid public school system that charges a nominal fee for student enrollment? A fee for service?  I have two public elementary school students in a good district, and would happily pay $1,000/yr/child to ensure that the schools have the programs and staff they deserve.  If additional funds were coming from student enrollment at the local level, districts would have more discretion about how these funds are spent.

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  7. “It’s time to stop whining about this.  Wealth comes with responsibilities.

    Reply:  Who says I have to be responsible for the huge population that was grown by Government Entitlements? 

    “I am absolutely certain that my nearly 30 years in the classroom has done more to elevate this nation than the self-enriching activities of many wealthy people.”

    Reply: I can see by the LAUSD graduation rate of 50%, that you’re doing a great job, despite spending 40% of the State Budget.  And “Elevate the Nation”.  I don’t think so.

    “ However, I chose a long time ago to help children learn instead of devoting my considerable intelligence to selfish wealth-building.”

    Reply:  That selfish ‘wealth-building’ pays your salary through the taxes of the so-called ‘rich’ ($50K and up in California).  Who are you, to declare what money you will seize from me?

    “To suggest that the rich are over-taxed is either naive or dishonest. “ 

    Reply:  We are neither naive or dishonest.  We are now even more educated about how the state of California spends it’s money, than ever before.  We see the Unions manipulating the Democrats in Sacramento, the pension deals, etc.  We see the wasteful spending.  We’re not stupid.  The money you crave to extract from somebody else’s hard work, you have no business dictating how it should be spent.  When the real taxpayers are burdened to the point of breaking, they will and are leaving.  The Corporations are leaving.  Thus, the ‘Budget Crunch’.   The money isn’t there, nor will it magically appear any time soon.  Get used to it or find a better way to spend what you have.

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  8. It’s a matter of practicality – if you dont share the wealth the poor will revolt and kill you and take ALL of it.  Do you really think that US police or military would fire on their own fellow citizens for revolting for just wanting the basics of life; food, clothing, shelter, healthcare? Even in Egypt the troops refused to act against their own people. Pay up or the masses will come calling – whether that’s morally or logically correct is not relavent, it’s a practicality issue. People are not rain water; they wont just evaporate and go away or just willingly starve and die quietly. The most basic human instinct is to fight for survival. Either give people a viable life or they will take it.

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  9. Reillyfam, I hear what you’re saying, but what if you have in place an orchestrated plan, like the Cloward – Piven strategy of the ‘Weight of the Poor’?  Where you grow the underclass substantially, then you have them collapse the Government through their demands for ‘Social Justice’ or not giving in to their ceaseless demands for more and more ‘free’ money?

    Giving people a ‘viable life’ is not and should not be the role of Government. 

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  10. Ms. Paisley, how much should this fair share be? Since 45% of Americans pay no income tax, and the overwhelming amount of tax is generated from fewer than 10% of taxpayers, how much more do you think we should squeeze out of them? Do you think it’s a good idea to have a school system supported entirely by a tiny minority of citizens, few of whom use it?

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  11. I recall a few years ago a publication by the LAO showing how California income at the top end swings wildly and how citizen mobility between income levels is quite high.  California’s highly progressive income tax leaves the budget exposed to the risk that the top income taxpayers take.  The publication showed how this exposure meant that annual revenue also swings wildly.  I favor progressive taxation, but am also concerned that California relies on income tax rates that are too progressive without enough diversification in the tax base.  Calls for raising taxes on the higher income levels worry me not because I think “the rich” will leave the state, but because it means the the budget’s exposure to greater risk of unstable annual revenues will be increased.

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  12. Or, in other words, government needs relatively stable revenue streams and income tax at the top brackets tend to not be so stable.

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  13. The Wealthy and Every Citizen has a right to see PENSION DEFERMENTS REELED IN and Contributions increased.Then TAX the Wealthy and Leave the Poor alone.The Poor have aready F0rgone Two Cost of Living Increases.The Tax rate and Wages after WW-2 was as even as the American Pie was ever going to be divided.The Wealthy have Taken Over after Nixon.The Tax Loopholes increased.Their Greed Shortchanged what made America Great.They USED THE SYSTEM and do not want to give back when it is needed the most.
    THE MATRA DURING WW-2 was Pay your Taxes to Defeat the AXIS.
    NOT
    STICK IT TO THE POOR
    Then The Wealthy Get MORE.
    The STUDENTS GET LESS
    THAT LEAVES INNOVATION IN A MESS
    What angers most citizens the most is the way the Wealthy Elite Make Money During a Recession.That is when THE SMART CITIZENS GET IT.
    The Dumb Ass TEABAGGERS have their Head so far up Their Ass their lost.
    It will be known one day that The Wealthy Elite Secretly Funded FOOLS LIKE GLENN BECK.
    They are The Shit Swizzle Sticks needed to Keep the DISCOURSE MACHINE ALIVE.
    I am a Baby Boomer and an Army Veteran that is worried the Country is Fighting between ourselves when a REAL ENEMY IS LURKING.
    I am not a DOOMSAYER by any Means.
    I just Chose not To Stick my head up my ass.
    THE USA WILL GET HIT WITH TERROR AGAIN and it will strengthen the USA.
    THE SPIRIT that has been missing will APPEAR and suddenly the ARGUMENTS WILL SEEM SO TRIVIAL.
    WE ARE ALL AMERICANS FIRST.
    PEACE

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  14. TYPO DUMMY !!
    That IS THE MANTRA During WW-2 was Pay Your Taxes to Defeat the Axis.
    It Would Be Nice to have that MANTRA AGAIN

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  15. What is VIABLE about Unchecked Arbitrage.The High Speed Trades is the First Inequality.THE FACT that the Most lucrative Derivatives are Sold VIA a Clearing House cotrolled by the wealthy.Capitalism is a breeze when you have CAPITAL.Try that with an Unsecured Loan and a HIGH RATE of Interest.Capitalism is never the ISSUE it’s GREED.
    .

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  16. The problem here is that everyone expects someone else to pay their way… This country was founded with no entitlement and should remain as such… Socialism is on its way and is going to distroy this country…. You cannot expect someone else who puts themselves through school, works hard to make a fabulous living to pay for those who feel “entitled”… This is and should remain a “free country, the land of opportunity”… Your life should remain what you make of it!!!! Not what you can steal from someone else…. Get a grip!!!

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  17. We are all tightening our belts, why can’t the government do the same….. They are the crooks here!!!

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  1. Ben Austin: Agreeing on What’s Best for Kids | moregoodstuff.info
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