Horne: Tax yourselves!

by David Safier
A reader sent me a March 10 article from KTAR News with an easily overlooked paragraph where Tom Horne said, in essence, Hey, don't blame the legislators for schools' budget woes:

Horne said that state lawmakers have taken an unfair amount of blame for recent cuts in education funding. He said the most serious problems have been in school districts where voters failed to pass budget overrides last year.

So, according to Horne, individual school district voters should pass tax increases on themselves to boost their district's education spending.

How many ways is this a truly weird statement? I count two.

  1. Horne is saying, "Raising taxes for schools is fine. Just do it yourself, don't ask the state to do it for you." Is Horne a tax-and-spend educator? If so, I must have missed that.
  2. In 1980, Arizona passed a law whose purpose was to equalize per pupil spending across the state. Before that, local property taxes covered a great deal of school funding. The more a district collected in property taxes, the more money its kids got for schools. (The inequities in the old system are even worse than they seem at first glance if you get into the details.) Horne is saying, "Let's increase the inequality between districts by giving them less state money and letting the districts decide if they want to make up the difference." The result would be reestablishing the inequalities that led to well financed schools in wealthy districts and bare-bones school in poorer districts.

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