Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Right Problem - Wrong solution

Under a Republican proposal Thursday in the State Senate, property owners would get a tax rebate check every September from Albany, and municipalities would see new incentives to consolidate services with neighboring governments. Essentially, this expands the "popular" STAR program which rebates to residential property owners some of their school taxes.

While the leadership correctly identifies New York's excessive property taxes, particularly school taxes, as one of the state's major problems, their solution is the same old "New York response" to any problem: throw money at it.

While some people have received relief under the STAR program, it did nothing to curb the cause of high school taxes: out-of-control spending by local school districts. In fact, STAR made it easier for local districts to spend more by BUYING OFF the votes of those most likely to oppose spending increases: the elderly and others on fixed incomes living in depreciated homes. Now, in typical NY fashion, a whole class of people will become further dependant on the government to give them a handout check every September.

While details of the plans for encouraging municipal "consolidation" are not described, it sounds like it will be more of the same: more handouts rather than attacking the structural impediments to consolidation.

Of course, all this only takes money from one taxpayer's pocket to put in another -- with the appropriate administration fee (employing how many more government bureaucrats) deducted along the way.

New York has to stop producing schemes like STAR that only enourage more bad behavior. Instead of giving taxpayers rebates, NY needs to stop taking so much from us to begin with.

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RomeHater said...

There's this prevailing wisdom that it's hard to find teachers in this area so they have to offer more. The problem is that this area is overeducated and there are more than enough young people who would work for a starting salary of $30K and full benefits.

Town like New Hartford know the truth. If you hold the line on the school budget, property taxes are lower and businesses flock in.

Strikeslip said...

Romehater: One problem with holding the line on school budgets is the Public Employee's Relations Board. When I wanted to hold my then-district's pay increases to the cost of living with the teachers union to justify anything more with increased responsibilities, our labor lawyer told us that that was not a possible position -- that PERB determines what the "going rate" is -- that that year the rate was X % -- but no justification for PERB's choice was ever provided.

RomeHater said...

Then do what Rome finally did. Lay off teachers. It's a stupid way to run a district, but sometimes your options are limited.

Strikeslip said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Strikeslip said...

I would lay off administrators before teachers because they don't teach. I would follow with teacher aides and assistants that are not required by law or regulation because they are not as qualified to teach. Then as a last resort go to teachers.

But you will find that usually school boards would rather raise taxes than lay anyone off or cut any program. It's so much easier than listening to parents complain that their child will be hurt and teachers complain about an increased workload. . . especially NOW that voters often rubberstamp the budgets since a whole class of voters have been bought off by STAR ... Those people will simply stay home and not bother voting. Meanwhile businesses, who don't get to vote, are taxed out of existence .. and then everyone complains that there are no jobs.