It’s now time for the annual ritual of passing school budgets and electing school board members. Despite all the hand wringing and the new ‘2% Tax Cap’, nobody’s property taxes are going down any time soon. And, for those of you who are contemplating about voting ‘NO’, here’s a little help to push you over the edge:
1. Nassau and Suffolk counties have some of the highest property taxes per capita in the country.
2. More than 60% of your property tax bill goes to fund the state education system.
3. Over 95% of all school budgets pass regularly.
4. Voter turnout is always extremely low, with only special interests bothering to show up to the polls.
5. The budget vote is conveniently held in May, not in November when the general elections are held. The springtime vote will ensure that the maximum amount of 'regular' voters aren't around to shoot down the budget. You want 'truer' representation? Have the vote at the same time as the general election.
6. Why isn’t anyone talking about term limits for school board members?
7. What is seen are the grandstanding board members and the fancy budget presentations, what is not seen (until it's too late) is the exodus of the middle class from Long Island, fleeing from the high property taxes used to support the ruling class and the intellectuals. So much for "affordable housing".
8. The majority of voters this Tuesday will be parents of children in school who believe that voting the budget down will ruin their children's education and property values. Wonder where they got that idea?
9. My assumption is that when enrollment is down we will start to see more applications for apartment complexes that allow for children. Call it the 'Municipal-Education Complex', but remember you heard it here first.
10. Voters don't realize that even a 2.5% increase in the district's budget can translate into a 5-7% increase in their property taxes, depending on the tax rate multiplier. Keep passing those budgets and that 5-7% % gets compounded every year.
11. A low voter turnout does not indicate the majority of residents approve of school district budgets.
12. It seems we have turned over the education of our children to political bureaucrats armed with encyclopedias of clichés and scare tactics.
13. Where there is no competition, there is only compulsion and coercion.
14. With school district budgets skyrocketing because of unfunded mandates from state politicians and political pressure groups, property taxes in some cases are higher than mortgage payments.
15. Some superintendents make over $500,000 per year. What market rate is that based upon?
16. We must pay for the centralized state education system whether we like it or not. To me, this is un-American.
17. Are we considering the long term affects on all groups, not just the immediate benefits to the pressure groups that lobby the hardest?
Reasons to vote 'NO' for your school district's budget:
1. You don't accept the state as your child's educator, nor think Andrew Cuomo should be the head of the education ministry.
2. You have no idea what's in the budget or if there is any pork.
3. It's not clear to you why superintendents make over $350,000 per year
4. Other than "it's the law", no one gave you a good explanation as to why the budgets keep going up despite drops in enrollment
5. You realize that most school board members are not qualified to put together or understand a $200 million budget.
6. Laws that are passed guaranteeing a salaries and pensions are socialist in nature.
7. All the 'interfund transfers' sound suspicious and would get people locked up in the private sector.
8. The annual ritual of having only the few take from the many is getting tiresome.
9. Laws that guarantee school salaries and pensions are 'price fixing', which is illegal in the real world.
10. No one thinks in the long term about the consequences of draining so much capital from the voters.
11. Wages and prices need to find their equilibrium through supply and demand – not the ballot box or the bully pulpit.
12. Consolidation is centralization, which are the opposite of decentralization and competition.
13. Central planning only works through force; those who resist are demonized.
14. Costs will never come down as long as the taxpayers are forced to pay for inefficiency.
15. You're ticked off that there will be a 're-vote' if the budget goes down.
Peter Nichols is co-founder of www.SaveHuntington.com