Abbott (Need we say more?)

The Siamese Twin to Local Education

There are many who point to the supremely unconstitutional decision by the NJ Supreme Court ordering funding by the state of so-called poor districts at the same levels as the richest. Without question, this fiasco of a court mandate has not resulted in its educational intent. It also has siphoned off billions of dollars which might have gone to other “less needy” districts, thus offsetting or at least diminishing the rate of property tax increases.

A Bad Court Mandate but…

Aside from the fact that the Legislature could and should have acted to undo the overreaching Court (for this decision as well as Mount Laurel), focusing on Abbott is beside the point. There are pragmatic reasons such as overall state would likely not be as high as it is now, so all those dollars going to Abbott districts would not necessarily have been there to go to everyone else.

Additionally, even if all the money spent on Abbott were equally distributed across all school districts, does anyone really believe that present tax levels would be appreciably lower? If so, how much? Ten percent? Twenty percent? No way. There has not been enough money spent to do that. Likewise, give any politician more money and they find new ways to spend it, they do not reduce spending. Abbott is just another whipping boy, which if addressed for its inequities, will not result in a bearable nor sustainable alleviation of oppressive property taxes.

Do Not Mistake

This is not to say Abbott spending must not or need not be addressed. It should. But can anyone say the only reason it should be addressed is because of its negative consequences on property taxes? No, they cannot. If there were no Property Tax, Abbott still is wrong and wrongly administered and should be revamped, revised or eliminated. But the point is that the Property Tax should not be the reason it is getting addressed.

Confusion

Abbott is just another example of how controlling spending is being confused with the Property Tax problem. Good fiscal practices ought to be part of all government. It ought to not only be necessary if we don’t like the results of it upon one particular tax.

The Answer

The answer is to look at the Property Tax for what it is. It is an inherently unjust tax that oppresses those at the bottom, inuring to the benefit of those at the top. Accusing various parts of government spending for runaway property taxes has actually served to point out two things. First, spending must be controlled. Second, we have a tax that is evil and ought to be eliminated. They are separate issues. Both need to be done.

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