The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Governor Blunt, in his State of the State address, proposed allowing school districts to use sales and income taxes to increase their funding. HB54, which is not yet scheduled for a hearing, seeks to implement this proposal. In my opinion, the proposal is bad. Here's why.
The basic concept of local taxation is that those taxed should gain some benefit from the tax. For example, good schools supposedly enhance property values, so all property owners in the district help support the schools through the property tax. However, sales taxes are paid by those who buy things. People buy things in places with retail bases. In our county, primarily that means Warrensburg. Country people who use Warrensburg's streets and parks gain some benefit from the sales tax we pay in town.
On the other hand, should the Warrensburg R-VI school district be empowered to pass a sales tax and actually do so, people from country school districts with minimal retail base, such as Chilhowee, Leeton and Crest Ridge, would be forced to support Warrensburg schools while their own schools struggle. Pernicious and unconscionable are two of the milder terms that come to mind.
The other half of the proposal, a local income tax surcharge for local schools, is also flawed. While this proposal at least limits those taxed to residents of the district, it still provides no benefits to impoverished rural districts. In addition, the existence of local income taxes is a disincentive for business and industry to locate in a community; failure to gain a new business or plant could more than offset the gain from an income tax surcharge. Reform of tax giveaways (corporate welfare) such as tax increment financing would be a much better solution.
The relevant house bill was introduced by two State Representatives from Springfield, a major retail center; I hope that our local Representatives will act in the best interests of all the school systems in their districts and work to defeat any such bill.
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