Ok. Anybody who is against higher taxes ought to really seriously consider how they vote on the voucher issue on November 6.
The voucher program, if passed, is expected to cost Utah Taxpayers $429 million over the next thirteen years. And yes, pro-voucher people, you are correct when you say that this money is not coming from the Education fund... it is coming from the General fund.. the very fund which pays for things like my husband's salary and our family's health insurance and other important things like road maintenance and prisons. It makes my hair stand on end when I see Utah Lawmakers willing to pour $429 million dollars into a secondary education system when many of Utah's state employees and teachers are making lower wages than their counterparts in other states. But I digress.
Utah has been forunate to be in a "time of plenty" the past few years, with unforseen budget surplusses that have given our lawmakers opportunities to really do the right thing for a lot of Utah public services. Utah's economy has been *booming* and our population is growing, which has contributed to Utah's coffers being brimming with bucks. We can only hope this trend continues for many years to come.
But what if it doesn't? What happens if the recent downturn in the real estate market and the mortgage lending industry starts to affect our economy here in Utah? What happens if in places like Iron County, wages don't keep up with national trends and people decide to leave Utah instead of come here?
Heaven forbid such a thing... but what if does? What happens to all of the families in Utah who use a voucher to pay for their kids private schools? If indeed this government program is supposed to help them, it wouldn't be in the best interest of the state of Utah to discontinue a voucher program, no matter how tight things get. In such a scenario, the only answers would be to raise taxes or watch our lawmakers make major cuts to other vital programs in our state so that the voucher program could be sustained.
And to those who think they are getting some "Credit" in their taxes by sending their kids to a private school with the use of a voucher also need to take a look at what it really means -- they won't see any decrease in their income taxes or their property taxes, which all goes to support public education. So your income taxes will remain the same, your property taxes will continue to rise, and you will be forced to pay for vouchers through the other taxes that you pay just because you live in the state. And those of us in rural Utah will continue paying for other people's kids to go to private schools and we'll never have the benefit of doing the same.
So think very carefully. Do the taxpayers really want to sustain a two-tiered education program? Are we willing to do the hard thing if times get tough?
I think Utah ought to do the conservative thing and be leary of paying for a government-sponsored, tax-payer funded private education system that may not be able to sustain itself through the long haul.