Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Appetite needs to be there to fund schools

  • This past weekend, Rep. Mike Peifer was the main speaker at a meeting focusing on property taxes in Pennsylvania. That focus was how property taxes relate to funding of public education.
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  • This past weekend, Rep. Mike Peifer was the main speaker at a meeting focusing on property taxes in Pennsylvania. That focus was how property taxes relate to funding of public education.
    A move is under way in the state to eliminate property taxes and change how public schools are funded.
    However, as Peifer pointed out, there are many red flags when it comes to changing the property tax formula.
    A very interesting point made by Peifer has to do with how many non-residents own property in this area.
    He said in Wayne County, it's about 50 percent.
    Eliminating property taxes would take those people off of the tax rolls, Peifer said.
    If part of the changing the formula is raising the sales tax, vehicle taxes and more, that means those people would no longer pay to fund education in Pennsylvania.
    The burden would be shifted to local residents.
    This is a great point made by Peifer, who also pointed out that 53 percent of the students in the Wallenpaupack School District are on free or reduced lunches.
    Is shifting the burden fair to those people?
    He also pointed out the 1991 law which keeps state funding levels for school districts in place even though many have lost student population.
    What that means is districts with declining enrollments have actually benefited from the law while those with growing enrollments have had to ask their local taxpayers for more money year after year.
    This law needs changed.
    But just like all major issues, politics gets in the way.
    Peifer said it would take 102 votes to change the law. He can only muster around 80.
    Page 2 of 3 - Here we go again.
    Instead of caring about the good of the whole, lawmakers again show they are biased and really care about themselves.
    It would be difficult to vote to change the law if your district is benefiting, but does that make it right?
    Absolutely not.
    Public education funding in Pennsylvania is in deep trouble. One of the biggest problems is the ballooning retirement system, an issue which was not even addressed at Saturday's two-hour meeting.
    But the funding formula, too, is a major matter yet nothing is obviously going to get done about it because of pure politics.
    It's a sad comment on our system of government.
    Don't these people understand they are "state representatives?"
    Sure, they are looking out for their districts but they also have an obligation to do what is best for all citizens of Pennsylvania. That simply does not happen.
    Peifer also made an interesting comment about Gov. Tom Corbett, who he said has made transportation a top priority. He wondered if the governor had much of an interest in the issue of property taxes as they relate to school districts.
    For any governor, education has to be a top priority.
    Yes, transportation is extremely important and needs a lot of attention. But will it do you any good down the road if you aren't educating the young people?
    Not at all.
    The governor should have a big interest in all issues and education should be at the top of the list.
    How that can't be is beyond belief. Apparently he's more worried about suing the NCAA over the Jerry Sandusky child molesting scandal than he is about educating young people to not become child molesters.
    Page 3 of 3 - It will be very difficult for anything to get done when it comes to school funding in Pennsylvania. There just doesn't seem to be an appetite by those who we have elected.
    Meanwhile, the local taxpayers will continue to be saddled with rising taxes while lawmakers will collect their salaries and work even closer to getting their great retirement package, as well.
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