Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Olentangy School Districts: The Sophists

Dear Editor:

Some 150 years ago, the economist Frédéric Bastiat wrote about the economic sophisms of his day -- a sophism being an argument deliberately formulated to deceive. What Bastiat noted is as true today at it was in his day: Politicians and government officials use sophisms to make claims that, while appearing true, are actually false.

The Olentangy School District has recently added to the list of sophisms. As reported in ThisWeek Olentangy, the district's web site states, "One of the main reasons for revamping the school funding system was to take some of the burden off of the local taxpayer."

That implies there exists some taxpayer who is not local. Can that be so?

All state and local taxes are ultimately paid by the local taxpayer. Shifting the burden from the local taxpayer to the state simply shifts the burden back to the local taxpayer in the form of state sales and income taxes.

While the district sounds like it is running to the taxpayer's defense, it is not. The effort to revamp the school funding system is simply an effort to push the tax burden back to the community under a different label. Nevertheless, a tax is always a tax.

This is true: The district holds the ability to lower the tax burden of its residence. It can reduce its expenditures and reduce its operating millage. All it takes is a vote of the board.

While that action is unlikely, it is likely that the district will continue using sophisms to prepare voters for the next levy. And a levy is coming. They always do.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough the current school model is unconstitutional in Ohio because it places too much of a burden on the local communities. (being a previous school board member, I'm certain you know that though) Ultimately it would be taxing everyone and making sure everyone got a sufficient level of money to educate a student. Then they could also levy higher taxes in their own locality to provide to a level they feel is sufficient.
The question is, what is the solution.

Jim Fedako said...

The CURRENT model has never been tested in the courts. So you cannot state that it is unconstitutional.

Anonymous said...

Well in reference to the current model, you are correct it has not been to court. But when districts are losing money you can only assume that it places too heavy of a burden on the local community.
And I know that until it goes to court AGAIN it has not been declared unconstitutional. But it has not changed enough in to avoid that label.
The questions still stands though, what is the solution?

Jim Fedako said...

Solution: Privitize.

Keep in mind that the "local community" pays the state tax too. It all falls on the back of the local taxpayer, in all circumstances.

The game is this: The state kicks in additional dollars, the district gives those dollars and more away at the next negotiations, the district runs low on revenue and comes back to the voters for more, the district then claims that the model forces the district to raise local revenue.