Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Cent Makes $ense

Now that Paul Thomas, Anthony Cody, Diane Ravitch, and others have reframed my thinking about school reform, it is time to begin practicing what these Social Context Reformers preach.

Consequently, I am excited to support A Penny For Kids legislation proposed by the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES)A one-cent sales tax for Wisconsin kids is vital and sensible. If passed, the sales tax will raise about $850 million annually to addressing the growing needs of Wisconsin’s children and schools hit hard by the recent state cuts. 

This is not an end-around to bolster public teacher pay. In actuality, a Penny for Kids could bring some healing to our divided state. Pay close attention to the bipartisan potential of this initiative. It does not increase property taxes. It is not a request for higher pay or better benefits for public workers. The proposal leaves intact all the recent cuts.

Conversely, public workers, like me, might feel less resentful of recent cuts knowing more are contributing to our state’s financial shortfalls brought on by the recent recession. Of course, public workers would also be contributors to this new revenue on top of the contributions they have already made to balance the state's books. Most important, the generated funds would help our most needy children and be allocated to communities across all of Wisconsin.

A Penny for Kids would not be a burden to Wisconsinites. Consumers could support this as something good for kids--just like those donations for various causes made at the checkout of local stores. Businesses across the state could bolster this initiative by showcasing the tax as necessary and good for moving Wisconsin's kids forward. 

WAES's well-designed initiative offsets concerns of being a regressive sales tax by targeting funds to our state's neediest students. Remember that revenues like this return right to our local communities and cycle through our state’s economy in many times over. Furthermore, the taxes generated would be paid partially by Wisconsin tourists--unlike property tax increases.

As I recently wrote, the eightball for Wisconsin and its schools are the growing number of children living in poverty. We can lift up all of Wisconsin by lifting up our state's children. Sign the petition, tell your friends and neighbors, and let your state legislators know you support A Penny For Kids.  

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