|Many of you are being told the school taxes you pay are for nothing. Though you pay taxes to your school district, none of that money comes back to you in any form.
That was the line-up leading to 1776 when our taxes were going to Britain. It is the line-up in this anti-school campaign. It is a disruption campaign by special interests. And I am confident that once more—in 2016—democracy in taxation will win.
Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to the need of society to levy them. If you need to levy taxes, you do so. If you don’t, you refrain from levying them….
Before the Republican-caused Recession in 2008, Christina School District fought the corporate war (Joe Wise/Broad Institute) and that war put Christina $17 million dollars in the hole. We borrowed to pay off that war. Then, as now, the designated levies set decent levels of sufficient taxes to eventually pay off the entire debt and maintain those schools.
Those taxes had been levied according to the value of ones property which for the most part, is based on the owner’s ability to pay. But the opposing top-down run Republican Party players do not believe in that principle. There is a reason. They have political debts to those who sat at their elbows. Across the entire Federal government’s spectrum to pay those political debts, they reduced the taxes of their friends in the higher brackets and left the national debt to be paid by later generations. Because they evaded their obligation, because they regarded the political debt as more important than the national debt, the Repression of 2009 which they started, gave us a seventeen-trillion-dollar handicap on us and our children.
Now let’s keep this little drama straight. The actors are the same. But the act is different. Today their role calls for stage tears about paying pennies more to fund the necessary function of schools. But in the days of George W. Bush, they played a completely different part.
The moral of their play is clear. They got out from under taxes then, they would get out from under taxes now—if their friends could get back into power now and if they could get back to the driver’s seat. But neither you nor they, think that we are going to allow them back in and so they apply their efforts to defeating necessary referendums which we need to continue schooling our next generation.
As before the Republican Recession of 2009, we have again attempted to create a tax structure to yield revenues appropriately adequate to pay the cost of this war against ignorance of our children in this current generation, as well as the next.
New or increased taxes ARE needed to enable us to provide the most basic service. Christina, one of the most efficiently run districts in the nation, is struggling with a poverty inherent in its population. Educational recovery is with us, but funds are not. Federal revenues are decreasing; State revenues are decreasing; emergency expenditures are increasing. A balanced budget is outlayed every year. This year another one is on the way. Does that sound like bankruptcy or moral decay to you?
Why this increase in this district’s assessment of revenues? Because the very large property owners who lease or rent out the majority of the land in Newark and Bear, now earn more money and now spend more money. Though they are asked to pay more money in taxes, they have so much more money left for themselves and their families…
For the average property owner we they can expect minimal increases. Only those who OWN property will pay the increase… Those who own bigger properties will see a small increase; this is a small referendum. Those who own small properties will probably not even notice unless they actually look to compare one year to the next. Those who pay rent, and that is many of you reading this, will pay nothing. That means that less than 11% percent of the heads of Christina’s families will pay $50 dollars more than they did; and more than 89 percent will, if they pay at all, see increases between 0 and 50 dollars. If you want the answer to this talk about high taxes under this current school board administration—there it is. Taxes are higher for those who can afford to pay high taxes. They are minimal for those who can afford to pay less. That is getting back again to the American principle—taxation according to ability to pay.
You would think, to hear some people talk, that those good people who live at the top of our economic pyramid are being taxed into rags and tatters. What is the fact? The fact is that they are much farther away from the poorhouse than they were in 2009. You and I know that as a matter of personal observation.
A number of my friends who belong in these very high upper brackets have suggested to me, more in sorrow than in anger, that if this levy is passed, they will have to move to some other Nation because of our high property taxes here. I shall miss them very much but if they go they will soon come back. For a year or two of paying taxes in any other country in the world will make them yearn once more for the good old taxes of the U.S.A. We have the lowest taxes anywhere on our wealthy. Far too low if you ask me.
One more word on recent history. Not only did this district inherited from the current state Administration, the full cost for imposing an expensive governor’s testing regime into every school, a mistake which placed a revenue burden on providing lower-income economic families living in this district with the very basics of education, but it has also been fraught with an unfair burdens by the governor and DOE, designed not to improve the quality of student’s knowledge, but to flip it over to a zone primarily ripe for the influx of schools FOR-PROFIT.
Christina’s local operating tax receipts are reduced by payments to Charter Schools and to other districts providing educational services to resident students. Local revenues provide 41% of the district’s budget.
Before the Republican caused recession of 2008-9, fifty-eight per cent out of every dollar of the districts cost came from the state as per our General Assembly. That is now down to 51%… In order to make the top echelon and friends of the Republican Party pay less in state income taxes as the economy recovers, you, the lower level citizens are now being asked to pay more just to maintain the minimum level of expense….
Before asking you to pay more, the district has cut all fat out of their budget. Christina has 98% of all salaried dollars directly impacting students either in the building or transportation. It is running two principals short. It has the lowest level of administrators to student in the nation. Due to last year’s defeat by special interests, 90 teachers were cut and average class sizes swelled from 20 to 30 per room.
This year we had to find new revenues to meet the immediate educational requirements. This new tax increase is merely an extension of the old property tax law and a plugging-up of the loopholes in it, loopholes which could be used only by men of very large incomes.
I want to say a word to you average homeowners who are being flooded by propaganda about this tax—propaganda, incidentally, paid for by your money. It is being disseminated by those who have used corporations in the past to build up their own economic power, who seek by holding back your vote to raise the levels, to keep down their taxes.
It is a fact that 89 percent of all those assessed will suffer less then a 50 dollar increase. Some none. Some a dollar. Some two. Some more.
It is a fact that the new revenue only returns the district back to the basest minimum required level necessary for complying with the standards of education set by the state and Federal government.
What we are concerned with primarily is principle, and the principle of this law, taxing local property to fund their local schools, is sound. If in its application imperfections are discovered, and they have been over time, they must be corrected for the good of American taxpayers and America’s students.
I am certain that the average of our citizenship is not taken in by the amazing amount of tax misinformation which has been turned loose in this political campaign.
People tell you the district is top heavy. But stop, look and listen. You will find what the propagandists do not tell you: is that this district is the most efficient in the nation. You will find that this district loses $20 million per year in payments to Charter Schools. Though the allowance of Charter-Schools is bad policy, unfortunately special interests have kept them still legal. That cost has to be made up. You will find this district is forced to jump thorough more hoops required by the DOE than any district outside of East Los Angeles. You will be surprised at the unbelievable pressure put on it to fail, just so private for-profit companies can swoop in and collect all the money you currently pay, without giving back different results. You will find these propagandists are not up-front with the truth. You will find they are purposefully trying to discredit your district’s schools to purposefully deflate your property values so they can buy you out when you leave for a song. . They are against good schools for we all know, good schools inflate property values…
Hence backers of the Republican Party at its very top, have something to do with defeating this referendum. Whether in Greenville, Kent, or Sussex County, far from the actual district itself, they have flooded your zip codes with false and misleading propaganda (often with made-up names invoking “Liberty”), both in print and robo-calls calling for the defeat of the referenda. If it fails, it WILL make it easier for them to take over your schools and pocket your property tax money in the process. .. These referenda are at the request of those local districts for whom the local revenue burden has become too heavy. Voters upon looking clearly at the costs of either a YEA or NAY action, should assumed the cost of paying small amounts in the immediate future, outweigh the entire district’s financial collapse, outweigh its inability to fulfill their function,and outweigh the plummeting property values of everyone affected.
For the most part, the overwhelming majority of small time business men are like the rest of us. All of us whether we earn wages, run farms or run businesses are in one sense business men. All we seek and all they seek is a fair assessment based on the greater good for the greater number—fair play on the part of our Government in levying taxes and fair play on the part of our Government in protecting our children against financial abuses by those with large pocketbooks..
It is the special privileged who have no concern for your children, your property values, your well being. It is the special privileged who are behind this propaganda to scare you into playing right into their hands. Like Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life, they keep their heads while you lose yours..
Once more this year we must choose between true democracy in taxation versus capitulating to the special interests in taxation. Are you willing to turn the control of your school’s taxes back to special privilege?
I know the American answer to that question. Your emails, mailboxes, and texts may be loaded with suggestions of fear, and your party’s official line of communication may be filled with propaganda. But the American people will be neither bluffed nor bludgeoned.
The seeds of fear cannot bear fruit in the polling booth.
Inside the polling booth every American man and woman stands as the equal of every other American man and woman. There they have no superiors. There they have no masters save their own minds and consciences. There they are sovereign American citizens. There on March 23rd they will not fear to exercise the sovereignty.of the American People over special interests.