Last fall, I was appointed to the Clinton Economic Development Commission, whose members have been working hard to develop creative strategies to spur growth in town. You can imagine my dismay when I saw the Clinton Taxpayers Association (CTA)’s annual assault on our schools. Not only does the CTA flyer sound like a maniacal late-night infomercial; it includes a shameful effort to discredit specific members of our community and information about the mill rate that is meaningless unless multiplied by the right number.
The CTA makes two main points: 1) we, as a community, should not spend a penny more to educate our children than the minimum required by law, and 2) education costs should decline at the same rate as enrollment. Everyone who has managed a budget of any size understands that some costs just can’t be reduced. I can assure you that my mortgage has not gone down as my children move out. Similarly, the cost of providing quality education does not decline every time the student head count goes down.
In an attempt to support its minimum school financing point, the CTA cites one person who believes that taxes are keeping home prices low. The National Association of Realtors sees it differently: “Every real estate agent knows what surveys and studies confirm: The quality of public schools influences where people buy a home and what they pay for it.” It’s economics 101: supply and demand. People buy houses in communities that invest in their schools: demand goes up, and prices go up. When they don’t see strong support for schools, they look elsewhere: supply goes up, and prices go down. So even if you don’t have kids, you will benefit by supporting our schools.
Published April 16, 2015 – http://www.zip06.com/letters/20150416/economics-101