Monday, April 28, 2014

Invest in schools or invest in prisons

What can be done about the tax burden on the public?

This is another question that was posed to me as I passed around my petition for the BOE. It is understandable that some members of the population are feeling overtaxed. After all, we all pay federal, state, county, school, school library district, etc. Some of the taxes are on income, others on home value, other on sales, etc.

When it comes to the school district, I will say one thing: since the economic crisis in 2008, NYS has taken back millions taxpayer dollars from the PCSD. (It's called the GEA - gap elimination adjustment.)
In point of fact, so many state taxpayer dollars have been withheld, that the PCSD has cut teaching and non-teaching positions. Lost jobs impact the local economy.

The NYS cuts to education  also resulted in the reduction of educational programs which diminishes the quality of the education students are receiving. If a school district is perceived as weak or faltering, it becomes hard to attract businesses and professionals to the region. If this starts occurring, the local economy will be further damaged because the main employers in Potsdam (SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson University, PCS, and CPH) need professionals. If they have recruiting problems, all entities will endure negative economic consequences.

So, to those who are unhappy about school taxes, I would simply say that we all need to consider that a lousy school = a lousy local economy. More importantly, we should do what we can to give the next generation a helpful start in life by providing a good education. Remember the schools-to-prison pipeline? We can either invest in schools or we will end up investing in prisons. And right now, we are not properly funding schools and we have a thriving prison industry - the best in the developed world.

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